Mother of child in viral meme sends Steve King cease-and-desist for using image in fundraising

Greg Nash

The mother of a child featured in a decades-old meme called “Success Kid” is demanding that Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) stop using the image in his fundraising appeals on social media.

BuzzFeed News reported Monday that attorneys for Laney Griner, whose infant son appeared — clenching his fist in apparent triumph — in the image first posted in 2007, sent a cease-and-desist letter to King demanding that he refund any money raised using the meme.

“I recently learned that Iowa Representative Steve King is using my copyrighted photograph of my minor son Samuel known as ‘Success Kid’ to raise money in a ‘Fund our Memes’ online campaign, also implying that he has some kind of ownership in it,” Griner tweeted.

“Representative King and his campaign staff appropriated ‘Success Kid’ without my permission. ‘Success Kid’s’ is about positivity and celebrates achievement. Neither I, my son, nor ‘Success Kid’ have any affiliation with Representative King,” she added. “Representative King should remove ‘Success Kid’ from his webpages immediately, issue a statement to acknowledge that the image was taken without our permission and endorsement, and refund the money his campaign received from misusing ‘Success Kid’.”

The post in question, originally posted on King’s Facebook page and website, encouraged donors to “fund our memes.” The Facebook post was removed as of Monday evening, and the corresponding page on his website could not be reached.

A request for comment from The Hill was not immediately returned.

King, who was first elected to the House in 2002, has a long history of making offensive and controversial statements, including questioning during an interview with The New York Times last year how the terms “white supremacist” and “white nationalist” had become offensive. 

House Republican Conference Chairwoman Liz Cheney (Wyo.), the No. 3 GOP lawmaker in the chamber, said in August that it was “time for him to go” after King said there would hardly be “any population of the world left” if rape and incest had not occurred throughout history.

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