Entrepreneurs

Grumpy Cat won $710,000 for copyright infringement — plus 4 other viral stars still cashing in on 15 minutes of fame

Grumpy Cat
Photographer | Collection | Getty Images
Grumpy Cat

Grumpy Cat — the feisty feline that rose to popularity in 2012 for her perfectly miserable pout — is still making her owner, Tabatha Bundesen, some serious cash. Bundesen recently won $710,00 for copyright and trademark infringement.

The offending party is Grenade Beverage, the maker of Grumpy Cat Grumpuccino, which tried to sell other unlicensed Grumpy Cat products, NPR reports.

Ever since she clawed her way to internet fame, Grumpy Cat's likeness has been licensed for use on calendars, books, toys and more. She even became the official "spokescat" for Nestle Purina PetCare's Friskies brand in 2013.

While how much she's made has been widely disputed, Grumpy Cat (whose real name is Tardar Sauce), has raked in serious money since her photo went viral on Reddit nearly six years ago.

Of course, internet fame can be a double-edged sword — just ask disgraced YouTuber Logan Paul. But for a handful of those who struck internet gold, whether with a funny video or an attractive mugshot, the cash can keep coming, long after their 15 minutes of fame have passed.

Here are four people who went viral and are still making money off the brands they've built.

Salt Bae

Nusret Gokce — or Salt Bae – rose to internet fame when a video of him sprinkling salt with sass went viral in January 2017. The Instagram video, titled "Ottoman Steak," features Gokce slicing a bone-in steak and lavishly sprinkling it with salt. It drew attention from stars like Bruno Mars and garnered 2.4 million views within 48 hours.

Gokce began his culinary career as an apprentice to a local butcher at age 13 and opened his first steakhouse, consisting of just eight tables and 10 employees, in Istanbul in 2010. In February 2017, NBC News reported Gokce had nine businesses, and now, the restaurateur boasts 13 restaurants worldwide with high-profile patrons like Drake, DJ Khaled and Leonardo DiCaprio. His newly opened Manhattan steakhouse, Nusr-Et, features an expensive menu of steaks priced anywhere between $70 to $275, and a really, really long wait.

Danielle "Cash me Outside" Bregoli

Danielle Bregoli, notoriously known for her "Cash me outside" line, appeared on a September 2016 segment of CBS's "Dr. Phil." The segment focused on then-13-year-old Bregoli's bad behavior and her rocky relationship with her mother. The clip of her shouting, "cash me ousside, how bout dah," in response to the audience laughing at her, quickly went viral and the teenager used the fame to launch her music career.

Bregoli's first rap release in August 2017, under her new moniker Bhad Barbie, hit 20 million YouTube views in two weeks. She was also the youngest female rapper to debut on the Billboard Hot 100, according to a press release.

Bregoli landed a label deal in September 2017 with Atlantic Records (the same company that represents stars such as Bruno Mars and Coldplay). Most recently, in the wake of her newfound success, she paid off her mother's mortgage for Christmas, according to a video she posted on Instagram.

The teen, though, has been far from trouble-free. She made headlines in February 2017 for reportedly getting in an altercation with another passenger aboard a flight. A few months later in June, she pleaded guilty to several charges related to a 2016 incident, including grand theft, filing a false police report and possession of marijuana.

Chewbacca Mom

Candace Payne earned the nickname "Chewbacca Mom" after a Facebook Live video of her hysterically laughing while trying on a Chewbacca mask went viral in May 2016. It was the most-watched Facebook Live video that year.

As a result, Payne received thousands of dollars in gifts from Kohl's (where she had purchased the mask) and a free Walt Disney World vacation, Money reports. Southeastern University even presented Payne and her entire family (including her husband and two children) with full-tuition scholarships.

Over a year later, Payne is still cashing in on her internet fame, and released a book in November titled "Laugh It Up: Embrace Freedom and Experience Defiant Joy." The tome is described on Amazon as telling, "the rest of the story behind the woman in the mask," and boasts five stars on the e-commerce site.

"Laugh It Up" has scores of positive reviews, with one reader calling it a "tear jerker" and a "bundle of laughs." It's is currently ranked at #63 on Amazon for books in emotional mental health.

Hot Felon

Jeremy Meeks, better known as "Hot Felon," became an overnight internet sensation in 2014 after his attractive mugshot went viral.

Meeks, who was arrested on a gun charge, was released from prison in 2016, and has since taken the fashion world by storm after signing a modeling contract in 2015 with White Cross Management.

In 2017, he walked in several Philipp Plein shows and began dating Topshop heiress and socialite Chloe Green, Vogue reports. Green (whose parents Philip and Cristina Green have a net worth of $5 billion, according to Forbes) and Meeks were recently spotted together on a yacht in Monaco, and have traveled to other luxurious locations like Barbados and St. Barts.

Meeks' Instagram now touts a following of 1.5 million, and includes glamorous snaps of him posing in front of the Eiffel Tower, on the cover of magazines and walking the runway.

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