Zoe Roth, now 21, was just 4 years old when the iconic photo was taken

By Rachel DeSantis
April 30, 2021 12:44 PM
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Disaster girl meme
Credit: Courtesy Zoe Roth

The little girl best known for her devilish smile in the iconic "Disaster Girl" meme is all grown up — and about $430,000 richer thanks to the wonders of the internet.

Zoe Roth, now 21, was 4 years old when her father Dave snapped a photo of her standing in front of a controlled fire near their home in Mebane, North Carolina in 2005, The News & Observer reported.

Thanks to the knowing smirk on her face, the image took off, and after it won a JPG magazine photo contest in 2008, took on a life of its own as an early internet meme.

After Roth put the image up for auction as an NFT, or non-fungible token, it sold earlier this month for 180 Ether, a form of cryptocurrency, which, though often fluctuating, equates to about $430,000, according to the News & Observer.

"People who are in memes didn't really have a choice in it. The internet is big," Roth told The New York Times. "Whether you're having a good experience or a bad experience, you kind of just have to make the most of it."

Zoe Roth
Zoe Roth
| Credit: Noam Galai/Getty

The winning bid reportedly came from an account called @3FMusic, the owner of which remains anonymous.

An NFT is a unique digital token that verifies authenticity and ownership of digital entities like art, drawings and music. Ownership of NFTs is recorded on a blockchain, "a digital ledger similar to the networks that underpin bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies," CNBC reported.

Prior to selling "Disaster Girl" as an NFT, Roth made no money off the image — but now that it's minted, the token is coded, and she and her father will receive 10 percent of the profits any time it's used in the future, according to the News & Observer.

"Being able to sell it just shows us that we do have some sort of control, some sort of agency in the whole process," the told the outlet. "Nobody who is a meme tried to do that, it just ended up that way – Is it luck? Is it fate? I have no idea. But I will take it."

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Roth reportedly hopped on a Zoom call with others who have been immortalized as memes, including Laina Morris of "Overly Attached Girlfriend" and Kyle Craven of "Bad Luck Brian," to discuss her options ahead of the auction.

Morris sold her meme for about $411,000 in early April, while Craven fetched about $36,000 for his in March, NBC News reported.

Roth, who is now a senior at UNC-Chapel Hill, told the News & Observer that she plans to donate most of her new windfall to charity, while dad Dave said he hoped to fix the air conditioning in his Honda Civic. Roth added to the Times that she hopes to go to graduate school to study international relations, and will also use some of the money to pay off her student loans.