From Michelle Obama’s outfit to JLo’s bilingual rendition of “This Land Is Our Land,” photos and clips from the inauguration were at the top of everyone’s timelines. While it may have been President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris’ big day, one unlikely character in mittens managed to steal the show — and there are memes to prove it.
Former presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders nearly broke the internet with his appearance at the 2021 inauguration rocking a pair of mittens that have since become the internet’s funniest joke, and thanks to New York University student Nick Sawhney’s Bernie Sanders meme generator, Bernie Sits, everyone can join in on the fun.
Here’s exactly how the Bernie Sanders meme generator was born.
According to Nick, he initially created the app for friends who later shared it on Twitter. It wasn’t long before the site gained traffic and became an online sensation. Nick told Wired, “I was freaking out because I was like, oh my god I’m going viral. And then I was freaking out because I had to stop the site from crashing.”
The coder said that had he expected the website to go viral, he would have put an entirely different set of parameters in place. He explained, “If I had known this was going to be the traffic, I would have made every single decision completely differently. When it blew up I realized that a website is more than just writing the code and putting it on there.”
Here’s how the Bernie Sits meme generator works.
Bernie Sits uses Google Maps to allow users to get all of their giggles from this viral meme by virtually putting Bernie anywhere on the grid. Nick explained, “Generally the Street View API will give you a relatively similar angle from the sidewalk unless they couldn’t get that angle. So if I don’t try to change that field of view or the angle, and generally know what Bernie will look like on the sidewalk, it works most of the time.”
Because Google charges per query, Nick has quickly learned that as the site’s traffic grows, Nick’s cost to host the website increases exponentially, leaving him with a bill that he has since built a crowdfunding campaign to pay.
In response to his supporters, Nick wrote on his crowdfunding page, “If you’re here it’s probably because of my Bernie-sits website. I’m overjoyed so many people like it! The server costs money to keep running and stable, which is currently coming out of my own pocket. Google also charges me each time someone uses the site for using the maps API. As a grad student, I can use all the help I can get paying to keep it running!’