The photo of Uncle Bernie's that became a meme and a sweatshirt that raised $1.8 million
Senator Bernie Sanders has become a star in the last few weeks for the meme made out of his picture from Inauguration Day, which has also been an inspiration to support social causes.
Inauguration Day 2021 took an unexpected turn as the spotlight shifted from President Joe Biden to Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders. Over the past few weeks, there have been millions of memes created using the photo of the Senator sitting on Capitol Hill wearing very warm gloves and a parka.
In response, the Senator's team took the buzz as an opportunity to sell sweatshirts with this photo and raise funds to donate to social organizations.
A black sweatshirt featuring his Inauguration Day photo costs $45 and has been sold out since it went on sale.
"Jane and I are amazed by all the creativity shown by so many people over the past week, and we are glad to be able to use my Internet fame to help Vermonters in need," Sanders said in a statement.
The sales have raised $1.8 million, which the senator will use for charitable purposes in the state of Vermont.
But within the maelstrom of memes, Uncle Bernie and his initiative have inspired other organizations and individuals to raise money for projects in need of financial support.
Burton, makers of the coat Sanders wore on Inauguration Day, joined in by donating 50 jackets to the Burlington Department of Children and Families on the senator's behalf.
Getty Images is also one of the organizations that will donate proceeds from licensing the photos to Meals on Wheels America, according to the press release.
Separately, inspired by Sanders' donations, Tobey (Perales) King, a woman of Latino descent, created a handmande crocheted doll from the photo that went viral and auctioned it on eBay, raising more than $40,000 that will also go to Meals on Wheels.
"I was talking to another crafter friend who told me that Bernie had just sold some hoodies and had donated all the proceeds to Meals on Wheels Vermont, and I knew that's what I wanted to do with the doll he had made," said Tobey, owner of Tobey Time Crochet.
"With the attention I was getting I was hopeful that Meals on Wheels would receive a nice donation."
An eBay spokesperson told CNN in a statement that they were so "inspired" by King's decision to donate the proceeds, the company pledged to match the winning bid to "help support even more people in need."
The popularity of Bernie and his meme will not only benefit Meals on Wheels, but many other social organizations in the state of Vermont, such as Vermont Community Action Agencies, Feeding Chittenden, Vermont Parent Child Network, The Chill Foundation or Senior Centers in Vermont. There have also been donations through Area Agencies on Aging and Bi-State Primary Care to improve dental care in Vermont.