"It was kind of overwhelming. Like… 'This is really taking off now,'" Kyle revealed of the moment his life changed forever. But where did it all begin? Hang on as we take you through his journey on how he earned the well-known nickname 'Bad Luck Brian.'
"My name is Kyle... but you might know me as 'Bad Luck Brian,'" as he himself told BuzzFeed. You see, as you already know, our story starts and ends with Kyle Craven, otherwise known as 'Bad Luck Brian.'
But what about before his story even began? Before the funny guy morphed into the viral face we know today? Believe it or not, long before we came to meet him, Kyle was actually living a life most wouldn't expect.
His Unexpected Childhood
Raised by practicing Catholic parents, the young student spent his days behind a desk at Archbishop Hoban High School, a prestigious Catholic prep school nestled in Akron, Ohio; But, that doesn’t mean it was all smooth sailing; As a matter of fact, it wasn’t.
How did Kyle put it? “Looking back at it, now that I’m 10+ years removed from high school? Yeah. I was probably a terrible student,” the former troublemaker revealed to KnowYourMeme of his misbehaved younger days. But what exactly did that consist of?
Always a Class Clown
“Let’s just say I wasn’t a great student,” as he revealed to BuzzFeed. In other words, “I was more interested in goofing off and being the class clown.” Alongside his partner in crime, Ian Davies, Kyle spent his younger days bringing a laugh to fellow students’ faces. Well, what did that call for?
Pranks, a whole lot of them: "I loved to do pranks," Kyle himself explained. From Cinco De Mayo piñatas - stuffed with vegetables, of course - to sabotaged renditions of Hanson's MMMBop at the school talent show, little did Kyle know, one of these 'misspent' days would soon change his life forever...
The Famous Picture Days
Picture day: For most of us, when that time of year comes rolling around, we turn to our favorite crisp blouse and maybe a fresh haircut to make mom and dad proud. As for Kyle Craven? These pictures called for more than just a spot on mom’s fridge; They were a challenge.
“One thing I loved... was picture day,” Craven explained to BuzzFeed. You see, as he put it, “It was an opportunity for me to shine. My buddies [and I], we always used to dress up and take stupid pictures and try to get them into the yearbook;” And so each year, successful or not, that’s exactly what he did.
The Yearbook Pranks
What did that call for, exactly? Each year, as another school year turned the corner, so did Kyle's grand plans for the latest yearbook. "Freshman year, you know, I had a 'grin on my face' picture, nothing too special, but my sophomore year? I thought I'd up my game a little bit..." he revealed to BuzzFeed.
"Actually, there are two photos," Kyle revealed of the moment he managed to bribe his way into the Sophomore yearbook - twice. "It looks like twins, Kyle and Craven in the class," the jokester proudly explained; But with another yearbook debut to tick off of the list, Kyle was far from done. In fact, he was just getting started.
His Long-Awaited Junior Year Picture
As the story goes, it’d be one year later, come Junior year of 2007, when “This all started,” as he revealed to BuzzFeed. In fact, it was at this very moment that young Kyle’s journey to online superstardom would eventually kick-off - he just didn’t know it yet.
You see, with two yearbook pictures under his belt and another two to go, Kyle knew exactly what that meant: He had to up the stakes like never before; His friends were expecting big things from him; His classmates, eager to see what tricks their class clown had up his sleeve this time. How would he live up to their expectations?
Planning His Next Prank
"I was really prepping myself trying to get a really good picture," Kyle recalled to BuzzFeed of his reigning title as Archbishop Hoban's class clown - and all of the pressures that came with it. He knew he had a name to live up to, and he wasn't going to disappoint, that much he was sure of.
And so, with an army of eager students rallying behind him and an imagination running wild, the high-school Junior’s endeavors placed him at his local thrift store, as he set off in the search to make the perfect class picture. If only he knew then the events that would soon follow…
Creating His Signature Look
“So I went down to a local thrift store, and got a nice sweater vest,” Kyle explained to BuzzFeed of the moment he laid eyes on his soon-to-be signature attire: The plaid-red Christmas sweater vest that the online world would soon come to know and love.
And, of course, “As I’m in line waiting to get my picture taken, me and my buddies are goofing off,” the troublemaker continued; But everything would change the moment Kyle reached his turn in line, as the photographer asked him 5 simple words: “What backdrop do you want?”
Making the Famous Picture
What would you have said? For most of us, the background color of our yearbook picture doesn't exactly mean much, but for Kyle? It meant everything, as he'd soon find out. "I told her purple, and she was a little surprised," he explained to BuzzFeed.
But Kyle was far from done. After rubbing his eyes "Really bad" and forming the perfect "Goofy smile," the young troublemaker was finally ready. "'Okay, let's smile!'" he recalled the photographer saying - and just like that, with the flash of that camera, Kyle's life would never be the same.
Everyone at School Was Talking about It
You see, "The picture itself was not like a master plan of, 'Hey, we're gonna take a goofy picture and turn it into a meme someday,'" as Kyle explained to KnowYourMeme. It was simply another goofy deed - an art Kyle knew all too well, of course - but even he couldn't have predicted what would soon follow.
What was he right about, though? The reactions from those within the school hallways when he finally got his picture back: Laughter, lots of it. “Me and my buddies were all crying, laughing in class, looking at it,” he explained to BuzzFeed. Unfortunately, though, there was one person who didn’t feel the same…
Forced to Forfeit the Picture
"Not more than 10 minutes [later]," as Kyle recalled to KnowYourMeme, the class clown was met with an unexpected visitor, one who had some not-so-pleasant words to say about his latest endeavor: His principal. She "Pulled me out and goes, 'Picture retakes are tomorrow, you're expected to be there.'" Kyle continued.
But while the head of his prep-school might have had a say in the matter, so did Kyle, and he wasn’t going down that easy. Perhaps that’s why he decided to do what he did next, a bold move that’d soon prove to have been well worth the risk. So, what’d he do exactly?
He Made a Secret Copy
“So I went home, and... scanned it,” the student recalled to KnowYourMeme. You see, when it came to retaking photos at Archbishop Hoban, there were strict rules that Kyle - and the other students - had to abide by: Returning the copy of the original, rejected photo.
Of course, though, if there’s anything we’ve learned from Kyle by now, it’s that he’s not exactly one to play by the rules; Which is why it was “Prior to doing that,” the young troublemaker made sure he’d “Scanned it, copied it, put it on his computer and actually made it as his Facebook profile picture.”
The Reaction Online
So, what exactly did his online friends make of it? Of course, it's no surprise that the controversial picture raked in endless likes from those who knew Kyle Craven - and his troublemaking tendencies - all too well. In fact, "It sat there for two or three years, something like that," as he told KnowYourMeme.
Little did Kyle know, though, that a couple of years down the line from then, his high-school prank would come back to ‘haunt’ him in more ways than he could have ever imagined. But what about before his face became plastered on every crevice of the online world?
Moving on with His Life
As the story goes, Archbishop’s class clown went on to graduate from the Catholic prep-school that following year and everything seemed to be relatively normal: He was enrolled at Kent State University, a Senior student in Construction Management, with a promising career laid out ahead of him.
In fact, it almost appeared as if his troublemaking ways were finally a thing of the past. Of course, though, as we all know all too well, life had other plans for the Kent State student, and it was only a matter of time before he’d come to learn that.
Remember Kyle's former partner in crime? The one who used to join him in his high-school endeavors, whether it be those yearbook selfies or piñata pranks? Well, Ian Davies' post-high-school reality might have placed him studying out West in Los Angeles, but the two friends and their journey together was far from over.
In fact, flash forward to 2012, and Davies' obsession with making memes would soon lead him to do something that would take the online world by storm - a single upload that would alter Kyle Craven's life forever. Do you know what we're referring to yet?
Ian's Obsession That Changed Kyle's Life
In order to understand the events that soon followed, it’s important to understand what, exactly, compelled Ian Davis to retire a forgotten memento from his wild days at Archbishop Hoban High. Why, exactly, bring back something that was already put to rest?
For starters, "Ian was very obsessed with making memes," as Kyle already explained to KnowYourMeme - only Ian's devotion went far beyond his vivid imagination. In fact, he spent his days on Reddit sharing almost 50 self-produced memes at a time; And while, "Usually none of them stuck," everything changed come Jan. 24, 2012.
"I Made You Internet Famous"
“We were obviously pretty shocked, as anybody would be,” Kyle explained to KnowYourMeme of the life-changing news that awaited him in Ian’s 4 a.m. voicemail that fateful January morning; It was something so unbelievable, Kyle was sure he was still dreaming. So, what’d Ian have to say for himself, exactly?
"He simply said, 'Hey, not a big deal, but I made you internet famous,'" Kyle revealed of the moment everything changed; Only he had no idea what that truly meant. "He usually sends me voicemails that make no sense, so I thought nothing of it," Kyle explained. Safe to say, "I was very, very wrong."
How Kyle's Fame Started
Clad in braces and of course, that signature plaid sweater, Kyle Craven - now called 'Bad Luck Brian' - was famously introduced to the online world, thanks to six simple words: "Takes driving test, gets first DUI," Ian Davies captioned Kyle's yearbook picture, before trying his luck on Reddit.
How did the online world react to Ian's latest meme, 'Bad Luck Brian?'" We got, I think, a couple of thousand votes' up' on it… and then it died off," Kyle explained to Kent State Alumni Association. But, of course, as we already know, that wouldn't last long.
Becoming 'Bad Luck Brian'
"At first, I thought it would die like everything on the internet dies out in a week or two. So I really didn't put too much thought into it, you know?" Kyle explained to KnowYourMeme; He had bigger things to worry about, with his Kent University graduation date slowly approaching. Little did he know what also awaited him.
You see, as Kyle put it, the meme simply "Didn't die... it was just getting bigger and bigger." He couldn't believe his eyes, how was this happening? In fact, "It was kind of overwhelming. Like, 'Holy s***, this is really, really taking off now,'" he explained.
But the newly titled ‘Brian’ and his fame were just getting started; From the front pages of Reddit and Imgur to viral Facebook posts, “It kinda snowballed into this iconic image that most people know when they see it,” as Kyle explained to Kent State Alumni Association;
And to think that it all started with "A goofy picture--like I've taken thousands [of] over the years," the shocked student revealed to KnowYourMeme of his sudden fame; "[Only] this one just so happened to be the right one that people picked up on." It was truly unbelievable.
He Couldn't Escape His New Fame
As a matter of fact, as with anyone who makes it overnight as an online celebrity, Kyle's new reality was something he'd only ever dreamed about. 'Bad Luck Brian' had taken him from small-town Ohio kid to online superstar, and it wasn't even thanks to his doing. But what did his swanky new title call for, exactly?
"This happened the last semester of college," Kyle explained to Kent State Alumni Association of the new reality he had to face: "People would recognize me in class... follow me around campus, always ask to do pictures;" But how did those who knew Kyle before his new identity - and all of the madness that came with it - truly feel?
How His Family Found Out
How did those who’d been there for Kyle since day 1 truly feel about his overwhelming new reality? Well, the answer is actually quite simple: They had no opinion, considering Kyle kept it from them until it came to hit them in the face, literally. What happened?
"My mom is a teacher... and somebody came into school one day with a T-shirt," he revealed to KnowYourMeme. Who was plastered front and center? Brian, of course. "'Do you know who this is?'" his shocked mother had asked. "'Yeah... Everybody knows who Bad Luck Brian is...'" the child replied; And "That's where it really clicked.'"
The Perks of Fame
Well, when you’ve got endless strangers around the globe idolizing a picture of your face, I guess it shouldn’t be much of a surprise that Bad Luck Brian has actually got, well, quite a lot of luck. But exactly how much luck are we dealing with here?
"You get to do all these crazy things," the star revealed to KnowYourMeme of his newfound fame - and all of the perks that came with it. From meeting Snoop Rogen - to an exclusive tour of the Playboy Mansion - there's one thing he can't deny: "It's given me a lot of opportunities… that I would never have had the chance of doing."
Meeting 'Overly Attached Girlfriend'
But with a steady following, big-name endorsements, and a reality that has him jet-setting around the world, one’s got to wonder: Could there, perhaps, be an inspiration behind his viral madness? The truth is actually quite simple: ‘Overly Attached Girlfriend.’
Remember her? Not only is Kyle’s success comparable to her rise to superstardom, but he actually gets to call her a friend. From getting flown out to L.A. to joining forces on YouTube, Bad Luck Brian and fellow meme star, Laina Morris, are officially the duo that can’t be stopped.
Forced to Hire a Lawyer
Of course, though, that doesn't mean 'Bad Luck Brian's' new reality is all fun and games. You see, while the Ohio native might be living out some of our very own dreams, he's actually had his fair share of worries. The most concerning one? Licensing.
"One of the first things we did was talk to an IP lawyer to keep control of it," Kyle explained to KnowYourMeme of the moment his protective family decided to patent his famous face. "We've seen from other memes how it can really get out of control."
'Bad Luck Brian' & His Brand Deals
Well, what, exactly, was the Craven family up against? From T-Shirts being plastered at big-name stores - Walmart, Hot Topic, Target, the list is endless - to best-selling board games, to Super Bowl commercials, ‘Bad Luck Brian’ was seemingly everywhere.
And, of course, he's got thousands of dollars in royalties to show for it; Not too shabby, considering Kyle's only expense was, well, an Ugly Christmas Sweater. Unfortunately, though, the number is in savings account wasn't the only thing that was increasing.
Handling the Hate
"You can't stop it from growing," Kyle revealed to KnowYourMeme of the trauma that still haunts him to this very day: "Trolls," as he likes to call them; But if there's one thing his newfound fame has taught him, it's to keep on going. How does he explain it?
"The one thing some people don't understand with things that blow up on the internet is the more you try to shy away from it or ignore it--there are so many trolls online that love it," he explained. Sure, it wasn't his decision to become an internet meme, but it was his decision how he'd handle it.
Where Kyle is Today
Well, fast forward to today, and it's been over 8 years since that 4 a.m. phone call that changed Kyle's life forever. Since then? "It's normal life now," the retired class clown explained to KnowYourMeme. But what exactly does 'normal' life for Kyle call for?
As the story goes, somewhere along the way, the Archbishop graduate traded in the pranks and goofy portraits for an even bigger treat: "I got married to my high school sweetheart." But that's not all; "We've been together for 15 years now… currently live in Broadview Heights, Ohio, in a little house and have two kids."
But while his new reality might have him embarking on a new and exciting chapter, is Kyle truly ready to say goodbye to that brace-faced, red-eyed troublemaker who once made it big for his latest thrift shop finding? Would he do it all over again, knowing what he knows now?
"Yes, 100 percent. No doubt," the now-project manager - for his family's business, Craven Construction - revealed to KnowYourMeme. "The question is, would my buddy post my picture again, or would he have posted his own picture on Reddit?" he joked.
Well, there you have it, folks. In the span of almost a decade, we watched Kyle Craven’s journey take him from ordinary Ohio teenager to online superstar; A remarkable come-up story like no other; And if there’s one thing he wants you to learn from him? It’s this.
"Don't take the internet too seriously," the star explained to KnowYourMeme. You see, as Kyle perfectly put it, "Why live life being mad when you can laugh once in a while, you know?" Safe to say, we can all take a page out of Kyle's book; And, hey, "You never know, [it] might [just turn you into] a meme someday."