Jared Smith, a software developer in Charleston, S.C., said the idea for this TV screen capture and caption, called simply “Welp” in the tweet he sent it out in, came from a mix of anger over Nationwide’s dead-kid ad (video below) and amazement at Seattle blowing its chance to win the Super Bowl on Sunday with an inexplicable, quickly intercepted slant pass.
The Nationwide ad “pissed off a lot of people, including me, and I don’t even have kids,” he said in a Twitter direct-message chat. Around halftime, he noticed somebody else had tweeted a screen grab of the kid with a text overlay explaining why he wouldn’t watch Katy Perry’s halftime show (spoiler alert: because he died), and thought he should grab a clean image himself, just in case inspiration struck later on.
It did, with just minutes remaining in the game.
With the Seahawks one yard from scoring a touchdown that would have likely cemented their victory, they ran a slant pass play instead of running the ball into the goal line. The pass was intercepted and the Seahawks lost the game.
“I was in my chair watching the game, incredulous at the call,” Smith said. “I ran over to my computer, imported [the image I had saved] into the Voila editor, and just hit ‘send.’ And then it escalated quickly.” To the tune of nearly 20,000 retweets, nearly instantly.
He’s gotten retweets or favorites from the likes of ESPN’s J.A. Adande and Buster Olney (“who used to cover the Padres, my hometown baseball team,” Smith noted).
“Just incredible reach for literally 30 seconds of effort,” he said.
Smith is no stranger to social media — he used to work as ReadWriteWeb’s webmaster, and he runs a local-weather-updates site in his spare time. But 20,000 retweets was still something new. “It’s just been nonstop since it took off. Really is wild.”
As he said on Twitter in a reaction to another note, “So this is what going viral is like. Holy moly.”
Nationwide has posted a statement defending its Super Bowl ad.
Read more from Yahoo Parenting:
How to Explain Shocking ‘Dead-Boy’ Super Bowl Ad to Kids