Most memes are funny for a day, and then enter the same internet graveyard as the Harlem Shake and “Philosoraptor.” But not Bernie Sanders and his mittens. The photo of the Vermont senator looking like Kim Cattrall’s replacement on Sex and the City on Inauguration Day is not only still amusing, it’s also raised a bunch of money for charity.
“Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised $1.8 million for charity through the sale of merchandise inspired by the viral photo of him and his mittens on Inauguration Day,” according to CNN (the picture was taken by taken by Agence France-Presse staff photographer Brendan Smialowski). “The Vermont senator’s team began selling sweatshirts and T-shirts featuring the photo, which inspired countless memes, on his campaign store last Thursday.” All the money from the “Chairman Sanders” merchandise, the first run of which sold out in less than 30 minutes, will be distributed to charities in Vermont.
“Jane and I were amazed by all the creativity shown by so many people over the last week, and we’re glad we can use my internet fame to help Vermonters in need,” Sanders wrote in a statement. “But even this amount of money is no substitute for action by Congress, and I will be doing everything I can in Washington to make sure working people in Vermont and across the country get the relief they need in the middle of the worst crisis we’ve faced since the Great Depression.”
As part of the licensing agreement to put the famous photo on T-shirts, sweatshirts, and stickers, Getty Images will donate its proceeds from the license to Meals on Wheels America… Burton Snowboards, which makes the coat Sanders wore on Inauguration Day, donated 50 jackets to the Burlington Department for Children and Families in the senator’s name.
The now-iconic mittens were made by Vermont school teacher Jen Ellis, who told the Washington Post that she remembers “the night [I gave him the mittens]. I was thinking to myself, ‘Is this crazy? I don’t even know this guy.’ But I wanted to make them for him, so I did.” A small act of kindness can lead to big things.
Bernie Sanders called me earlier today to tell me that the mitten frenzy has already raised an enormous amount of money for Vermont charities. I am not authorized to disclose the amount yet- but it's BIG and it's amazing! Thank you!! Generosity brings joy. @People4Bernie
— Jen Ellis (@vtawesomeness) January 25, 2021