- 'Disaster Girl' Zoe Roth made close to half a million dollars by selling the original meme image.
- Roth, now 21, sold the image as an NFT. It sold for 180 Ether, which was worth $430,000 at the time of auction.
- The image was minted so Roth retains copyright. She gets a 10% cut every time it is re-sold.
- Visit Insider's homepage for more stories.
"Disaster Girl" Zoe Roth has made bank – by selling the original image of her meme as an NFT for close to half a million dollars.
She was the subject of a viral image that became a meme favorite for humorous (and somewhat sinister) takes on life, after the photo snapped in 2005 by her father was turned into a meme.
Roth, who is now 21, is a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill.
Roth, then 4, was wandering around her North Carolina neighborhood when her father took a picture of her flashing a sly smile while firefighters put out a house fire. While she may not be an arsonist or a pyromaniac, that soon became her alter ego.
The image turned into a popular meme re-shared millions of times over the last decade, but the family never found a way to make money off Roth's internet infamy – until it was suggested that she sell the original image as a non-fungible token (NFT).
"Being able to sell it just shows us that we do have some sort of control, some sort of agency in the whole process," Roth said, speaking to the Raleigh News and Observer.
Roth added that she and her father Dave Roth sought the advice of "meme" celebrities like "Overly Attached Girlfriend" Laina Morris and "Bad Luck Brian" Kyle Craven before hiring a manager and a lawyer to iron out the logistics.
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The Roths then listed the "Disaster Girl" token on April 16 for a 24-hour auction, but the price skyrocketed to 180 Ether – a cryptocurrency worth $430,000 at the time – and is currently worth more than $470,000.
"I'm out there probably shouting expletives into the air," Dave said. "Every time it would bump up, I just couldn't believe it," Dave Roth told the Observer.
NFTs are unique digital assets stored on blockchain technology – the same technology that makes cryptocurrency like Bitcoin possible. Most NFTs are stored on the Ethereum blockchain, a digital ledger. In Roth's case, the image can be likened to a "trading card" or a unique work of art.
The auction was won by a bidder called "3FMusic," who handed over 180 Ether for the image. Zoe Roth now plans to split the proceeds with her family.
But selling the image does not mean that Roth will lose the rights to her likeness – as the NFT was coded in such a way so that she retains the copyright. She will receive 10% of the sale every time the "Disaster Girl" NFT is re-sold, giving her some control over the viral image for the first time.
NFTs have been making headlines of late. In March, online artist Beeple made a staggering $69 million selling "Everdays: The First 5,000 Days." Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey also minted his first tweet into an NFT and sold it for $2.9 million.
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