He cried when he became a Popeyes meme. Now the restaurant sponsors him.

Nearly a decade ago, Dieunerst Collin was enjoying “Super Buddies,” a children’s movie featuring talking dogs, with his mom at their home in East Orange, N.J. Then his

sister texted with some news: A video of him had gone viral. After seeing the clip showing him glaring at a videographer at Popeyes, Collin burst into tears. The meme,

which originated as a six-second Vine video, was filled with viewers’ razzing comments about the 9-year-old, and Collin’s classmates later made him the butt of their jokes.

Collin has come to terms with the meme in recent years as he has developed another identity through football, which he plays at Division II Lake Erie College in Ohio.

This month, the 18-year-old used the meme’s popularity to sign a sponsorship deal with Popeyes that will attach his name, image and likeness to advertisements. “At first

it was really hard,” Collin told The Washington Post. “But the family and friends that I had told me, ‘Hey, this is going to be something good. You can really flip this.’ A part

of me now is pinching himself.” A Popeyes spokeswoman confirmed the sponsorship deal, adding in a statement: “From memes to dreams, Dieunerst and Popeyes will grace

social media feeds once again.” In August 2013, Collin said his father, Evens, ordered a family chicken meal at a Popeyes in Irvington, N.J. Collin said he filled his

white cup with sweet tea and waited for his family to exit the restrooms. A man, who was recording a video on his phone, approached Collin.