'Hide your kids': Viral stars dish on ups and downs of instant fame

Viral fame is a fleeting and unpredictable thing. Antoine Dodson became famous for a funny interview he delivered after an intruder broke into his home.

See Full Article

Shirtless jogger Ethan Renoe captured hearts around the world when he stopped for a TV interview. And Jordan Axani became a huge topic of watercooler conversation for a couple weeks, with his offer of a free trip around the world for one lucky woman with a very specific name.

On Thursday, the "Bed Intruder Guy," the "Shirtless Jogger" and the "Trip Around the World Guy" joined CTV's Canada AM to reflect on their respective rises to viral stardom, and on what comes after that fame fades.

Axani became Internet famous when he launched a search for a travel companion with the same name as his ex-fiancée, Elizabeth Gallagher. The Toronto native had booked a trip for two around the world, and he wanted to share it with someone whose name would match the one on all the tickets he'd already purchased.

Axani said it was "mind-boggling" to see how quickly his online offer spread online, within hours of his posting it. "It ended up blowing up on the Internet overnight," Axani said. "The next morning, as it was blowing up, as it was going viral, I kept thinking: 'Is this viral?'"

For "Shirtless Jogger" Ethan Renoe, fame came to him even quicker. Fifteen minutes after he appeared on live TV in Chicago, shirtless and well-muscled, a video of Renoe had already gone viral.

"I ran back from that interview, and within that mile that I ran back, the video had gotten about 24,000 views," Renoe said.

During his interview, Renoe told the TV audience that he loves "running in the rain," and that he was single.

On Thursday, Renoe said he's still single, although his viral fame has allowed him to move to Los Angeles to pursue new career opportunities.

Antoine Dodson said fame started creeping up on him the night after he gave the interview, when a friend told him the video was shown on the nightly news. "I just remember laughing, because I felt the interview was funny," he said. "I really didn't think that I would be instantly famous."

Dodson's friend put the video online that same night, and it quickly blew up. The original video now has over 62 million views on YouTube, while a musical, auto-tuned version of the song has 131 million views.

Dodson quickly became a viral star, and found himself working almost non-stop. He said he travelling on airplanes three to four times a week, flying to appearances in all parts of the United States. His fame has faded in recent years, but he insists he's "still riding that wave," with a reality show set to debut on a U.S. network later this year.

Axani said he also "rode the wave" of viral stardom, as he found himself fielding offers to do TV shows and movies. "But then I totally crashed and burned, 100 per cent," he said.

Axani said he's glad he turned most of those offers down. Instead, he tried to use his temporary fame to promote a charitable cause he believes in. "If you give into that, then you're just a commodity," he said. "It was all about saying no to the salacious stuff and saying yes to things where we could actually help people."

Axani has used his viral success to launch a digital start-up called Bounde, which seeks to help people deal with mental illness using digital apps.

"It's a great launching off point for things that I really believe in," he said.


Latest Entertainment News

  • Cuphead's composer needed to be talked into the project. Now he's up for a Juno for its big band music

    Entertainment CBC News
    When orchestral percussionist Kristofer Maddigan began his years-long journey composing the soundtrack for a video game his friends were creating, he mostly kept the passion project to himself. As a genre, video game music doesn't get a lot of respect. Source
  • Group seeks probe of prosecutor's office over Weinstein case

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK -- Time's Up, an initiative started by a powerhouse of Hollywood industry women to fight systemic sexual harassment, called Monday for New York's governor to investigate the Manhattan district attorney's office over a decision in 2015 not to prosecute a sex abuse case against Harvey Weinstein. Source
  • Woman says Steven Seagal sexually assaulted her at audition

    Entertainment CTV News
    LOS ANGELES -- A woman on Monday said she was a 17-year-old model and aspiring actress when Steven Seagal sexually assaulted her at a supposed casting session at a Beverly Hills hotel room in 2002. Source
  • 'Sex and the City' star Cynthia Nixon running for NY governor

    Entertainment CTV News
    ALBANY, N.Y. -- Former "Sex and the City" star Cynthia Nixon said on Twitter Monday that she'll challenge Gov. Andrew Cuomo in New York's Democratic primary in September. Her announcement sets up a race pitting an openly gay liberal activist against a two-term incumbent with a $30 million war chest and possible presidential ambitions. Source
  • Fifth Harmony going on 'hiatus,' members to go solo

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - Fifth Harmony is going on "hiatus." The girl group announced Monday on Twitter that Ally Brooke, Normani Kordei, Dinah Jane and Lauren Jauregui will pursue "solo endeavours." The group says the break will allow them "to gain new experiences, strengths and perspectives that we can bring back to our Fifth Harmony family. Source
  • 'Too close of a reflection:' Handmaid's Tale season 2 embodies #MeToo

    Entertainment CBC News
    The first season of The Handmaid's Tale was a startling reflection of America's political climate and swept both the Emmys and Golden Globe Awards. Season two will once again hold a mirror up to today's society; this time by portraying both the support of and eventual reproach against women using their voices. Source
  • YouTubers KSI, Logan Paul agree to box in U.K., U.S.

    Entertainment CTV News
    NEW YORK - YouTube stars KSI and Logan Paul are taking their acts into the boxing ring. They've agreed to a two-fight deal, with the first bout in the Manchester, England, on August 25th and a rematch in the United States. Source
  • Gordon Pinsent explores depression with short film 'Martin's Hagge'

    Entertainment CTV News
    TORONTO -- Growing up in Grand Falls, N.L., actor Gordon Pinsent never heard the word "depression." While those around him talked about a dreamlike, folklore entity that "came into your being and stopped you from succeeding in life," they referred to it as "the Hagge," says the award-winning stage and screen star. Source
  • Jim Carrey criticized for portrait believed to be White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders

    Entertainment CBC News
    Jim Carrey is being criticized on social media for a portrait he painted that is believed to be White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders. The actor and comedian on Saturday tweeted the painting with the caption: "This is the portrait of a so-called Christian whose only purpose in life is to lie for the wicked. Source
  • Bill Murray takes nap at SXSW premiere of 'Isle of Dogs'

    Entertainment CTV News
    AUSTIN, Texas - Bill Murray took a catnap at the premiere of the film "Isle of Dogs." Murray voices the canine Boss in Wes Anderson's movie, which was shown Saturday at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas. Source