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Mother of ‘Success Kid’ meme sends GOP's Steve King cease-and-desist letter slamming ‘this vile man’ and his ‘disgusting party’

Mother of ‘Success Kid’ meme sends GOP's Steve King cease-and-desist letter slamming ‘this vile man’ and his ‘disgusting party’
Steve King image via By Gage Skidmore, CC BY-SA 3.0.

Iowa Rep. Steve King, who is seeking reelection to the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2020 election, has used the “Success Kid” image in a fundraising ad on the GOP platform WinRed — and attorneys for Laney Griner, the mother of “Success Kid,” have sent the far-right Iowa Republican a cease-and-desist letter demanding that he quit using her son’s image.


Griner and her attorneys are asserting that King’s campaign have used the “Success Kid” image without the mother’s permission. And she made it clear in a tweet that she doesn’t share King’s political views.

“Neither I, my son, nor ‘Success Kid’ have any affiliation with Rep. King, nor would we have ever agreed to this use,” Griner posted on Twitter. “I do not endorse Rep. King, and like most people, I strongly disagree with his views.”

Griner also tweeted, “Just so it’s clear: I have/would never give permission for use of my son’s photo to promote any agenda of this vile man or that disgusting party.”

King’s 2020 campaign linked to the ad from his Facebook page, writing, “Do you enjoy our memes? If so, please click the link below.”

First elected to the U.S. House of Representatives via Iowa in 2002, King (now 70) has a long history of making racist and misogynist remarks — and in 2019, he was so offensively racist that even House Republicans removed him from his committee-related work.

Griner’s son Sam is the child depicted as “Success Kid,” although he’s now 13 years older than he was when the photo was taken: Griner first posted the photo online in 2007, and it went viral. The “Success Kid” image has typically been used to express a feeling of achievement or accomplishment and has been used in everything from a Super Bowl commercial to a cereal commercial.

“Success Kid” has been used by politicians in the past. In 2013, the Obama Administration used the image to promote immigration reform — and unlike King, it got Griner’s permission before using the image.

King was reelected to the House in 2018, defeating Democratic challenger J.D. Scholten by 3% — which was much closer than his 23% victory over Democrat Kim Weaver in 2016.

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