One of the most shared items on the internet the last two days has been the hilarious photo of three girls allegedly being ‘photobombed’ by a wannabe celebrity stingray.
What seemingly started out as a posting on the site Imgur has resulted in tens of thousands of shares on Twitter and Facebook and countless news outlets picking up the photo. The question has been — who are the girls in the photo and is this a true ‘photobomb.’
It turns out there is quite an interesting backstory on this photo — one that even includes The Ellen DeGeneres Show.
I had the privilege of speaking with one of the girls in the photo, Sarah Bourland, who filled me in on the history of this hilarious photo and their repeated and unsuccessful attempts to get it on “the funniest photos” segment of The Ellen Show.
Pictured left to right, Sarah Bourland, Natalie Zaysoff, and Kendall Harlan took off on a Spring Break cruise five years ago and one of the stops was none other than the Cayman Islands, home of the famous Stingray City.
Bourland said the photographer asked them to take a photo with the stingray in front of them and then he unexpectedly put it on their backs. Although the stingray did not ‘photobomb’ them, she said their reactions were genuine and what freaked them out was the sucking noise it made.
“It was all too much and unexpected and the photographer snapped the photo at the perfect time! We had no idea that the photo was so brilliant until later when he showed us the proof. We immediately bought it,” Bourland said. “It was a huge hit back at Texas Christian University, where we were going to school at the time, and so we decided to try and send it to the Ellen show. For 5 years now she has been denying us, but now that it has gone viral we are hoping that this is our chance!!”
You might assume one of the girls posted it online, which sparked it going viral this week.
Bourland said she had no idea what was going on until people began contacting her. I asked her how it felt to become an overnight Internet celebrity and she shared this with me,
“I had no idea that this photo was going to become so huge! To be honest, I had no idea that it was even posted to reddit.com until I started getting a slew of phone calls, texts, emails, photo messages, Facebook tags of people saying that they saw me on reddit. I was so confused because I had no idea what was going on. People then started sending me memes of the photo and that’s when it hit me, I have reached meme status in my life! How many people can say that?! This entire thing is hilarious to me! I’m a school teacher in Fort Worth and all my kids think that I’m a celebrity and keep asking for my autograph and if I know Justin Bieber and other teen icons.”
As of Saturday morning, the photo has been viewed over 900,000 times on Imgur and voted up nearly 13,000 times on Reddit. International media outlets continue to pick up the story, including Chinese language ones in Taiwan.
This scenario demonstrates how social media has evolved in the last five years and what power the Internet holds. Within two days, Bourland and her friends have been seen by tens of millions of people around the world, far more than the number of people who might have seen the photo for a few seconds on television.
Let’s hope that Ellen DeGeneres takes notice and eventually the girls get their well-deserved spot in her funniest photos segment.
You can’t help but wonder what the person who passed on this photo multiple times is thinking now.
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