Connor Sinclair, left, and the original 10 Guy meme, right.

After Nearly A Decade, 10 Guy Reveals His Identity As We Sit Down With The Man Behind The Meme To Hear Connor Sinclair’s Full Account Of The Image


ncovering the origins of memes and the people behind them isn’t always as easy as tracking down a well-known celebrity or pop culture reference, especially when it comes to some of the old Advice Animals. For the last decade, the true identity of 10 Guy has never been known since it first appeared in 2011. After so much time remaining anonymous, UK-based resident Connor Sinclair finally decided to come forward and reveal that he was 10 Guy, finally putting one of the longest “unsolved meme-steries” to rest. In order to learn more about Sinclair himself and what was truly going on behind the scenes of such a classic meme, we sat down with him to catch up and hear the full account of 10 Guy for his first exclusive interview.

Q: At long last, we finally meet, Connor. So, start us off with a quick intro to let everyone know who you are and what you’re known for.

A: I’m Connor, I’m originally from Northern Ireland but now I live in England. I moved down here with my girlfriend Lucy. We both used to work in Edinburgh, she at Amazon and I was backroom staff in professional rugby. We came down to run a foodhall, which had just been opened as part of her family business. It's been good to be able to adapt and keep working over lockdown, especially delivering food to isolated and vulnerable people in our community. We live in a rural community, so there's quite a lot of vulnerable and elderly people that we provide food to, so we've been doing deliveries and things like that for the past year. It's been nice to keep working when a lot of people are probably struggling, so I'm quite fortunate that way.

(Sinclair posing with some of his teammates after a rugby match.)

Q: For those unfamiliar with it, could you explain what the “10 Guy” meme is and how it’s used?

A: The 10 Guy meme is a classic internet meme. I guess 10 years is like ancient history in terms of the internet, so I guess you could say it's a classic. It centers around 10 Guy, me, who looks under the influence. I suppose you could say, “under the influence but happy about it,” and basically it centers around him not being able to understand basic questions or getting confused and wanting junk food.

Q: Let’s go back to pre-meme days before you became known as “10 Guy” online. Where’d you grow up and what were some of your early online experiences, such as sites or communities you were a part of around the time of the meme?

A: I grew up in, as I said, quite a rural place just about 10 minutes outside Belfast in Northern Ireland. It wasn't nearly the most tech-savvy or cultured place in terms of the internet and that sort of thing, more of a farming community. But I think the first sort of viral video that I remember is “Badger Badger Mushroom.” And then obviously eBaum's World, Know Your Meme, Albino Blacksheep, and I remember putting a lot of time into Miniclip games and stuff like that. Bebo was like a precursor to Myspace or maybe it was around the same time, but I think it must have been just in the UK. It was like the social media platform when I was nearly 10, 11, early teens, that kind of age, before Facebook. I used to have dial-up back in the day before broadband. I remember the dial-up noise [laughs]. And then sort of Facebook and YouTube came in.

(A baby picture of Sinclair and his family.)

Q: Ok, so diving into the infamous image from the meme, tell us how, when and where those photos were originally taken. What’s the story behind them and what was going on there?

A: So that one's Ibiza, Spain in 2011. I don't know if it's the same in the U.S., but in the UK, once everyone finishes high school, secondary school, they always go away on holiday with all their friends. It's like their first holiday away from their family and obviously everyone just parties and that sort of thing. So that's what happened. Probably about a dozen of us at least, guys and girls, we all went to Ibiza, and none of us had any money so we were in just the cheapest hotel room with no aircon, etc., and just partied. I think that [the photo] was probably like three or four days in and we were maybe going out later that night. I can't remember exactly, but I was definitely a bit worse for wear, let's say that [laughs]. It was taken by a friend of mine named Emma, at least it was her camera. They were just stupid photos of our holiday and definitely weren’t intended to be uploaded anywhere but Facebook.

This was back before smartphones, so we had a digital camera. That trip was quite funny actually because one of my friends, Tim, thought it would be really funny to shave my eyebrows. That was a separate night later on luckily. For the first few months of university, I had to draw eyebrows on my face until they grew back properly, which was great. So I've never really gotten him back for that, so it's actually good you just reminded me of that. Just classic UK holiday abroad behavior, really.

(The original image of Sinclair from 2011 that later became 10 Guy.)

Q: The first-known upload to include the image online comes from a Reddit post to /r/trees in November 2011. Do you know if the image was posted anywhere else prior to that?

A: That was the first time the photo was posted anywhere, and it was actually my neighbor David who uploaded it who I've known my whole life. I sent it to him one night at uni for a laugh. Unbeknownst to me, he put it on Reddit, and then it just went crazy. The photo that was posted on /r/trees was the first time it had been posted anywhere but on our private Facebook page. And I know that because it's my fault.

So I sent the photo [to David] in November, and it was a couple of months into my first year of uni. I was sitting in my hall this one night, bored, just looking through the photos and I saw those and was laughing about it. I sent it to David and then he posted it to Reddit, so he is that Reddit user that did the first post. I didn't know that he posted it. Obviously, he didn't expect it to go the way it was but then somebody else got a hold of it and it just went crazy. I remember waking up the next day and it was everywhere.

(The first-ever meme using the 10 Guy format.)

Q: That same day, the first 10 Guy meme was also shared to Reddit that went on to become the iconic format. Did you see this particular meme or any of the other early examples back then? What’d you think of your likeness being used in such a manner?

A: I think I did see the first meme. I woke up the next day and it was everywhere. I think that particular meme about “want hospital” was at the top of the front page and then more and more popped up. I was just surprised, to be honest. I remember showing my quite stoic german roommate Jochen and I don't think he really got it, to be fair I don’t think I did either [laughs]. I thought that was actually really good, and I think the guy that posted it said that that actually happened to them. I just love the idea of someone getting a text from their friend next to them that says they need the hospital. And then yeah, it just kinda went crazy from there.

I never really thought it would be something that would still be around after a year. Even then, I knew that the internet was pretty quick turnover in terms of content, so I just thought it would be like an overnight thing. I never imagined that it would be something that would still be popular after 10 years, but here we are.


Q: So around this timeframe, were you knowledgeable about memes and internet culture, or was becoming one yourself the first real encounter with it?

A: So yes, I would have been. I probably hadn't heard the term “meme” back then because I don't think it was such a widespread term. Obviously, I knew about viral videos, etc., and there are memes that predate mine that I would have seen, but I never would have given a second thought about the people behind them really, which changed after I became one.

Q: By December and into early 2012, 10 Guy was a well-known and widespread format with hundreds of various examples on multiple sites. Do you remember when or where you began seeing your meme take off and how you reacted to your face going viral?

A: I think after that I was pretty locked into Reddit, I saw it spread there and read all the comments. Then celebrities and YouTubers were superimposing my face into their videos and things like that. I read all the comments back in those days and saw most of the posts and things. Everyone thought I was Quentin Tarantino [laughs]. I probably didn’t think much other than it was funny. Pretty soon after that, I started getting recognized [out in public]. But most of my awareness of what was on Reddit was on /r/trees and that sort of stuff. I was definitely keeping an eye on it.

Q: In late March 2012, someone then shared several additional photos of you from the same day the meme’s image was taken. Do you know who this was and why they shared them?

A: No, I don't actually know who shared them. It must have been a friend of a friend. As I said, they were all online on her Facebook profile [Emma who owned the camera]. But I did see them, and I don't look good in any of them!

(Alternate angles snapped the same day as the original 10 Guy image.

Q: Although you didn’t confirm your identity at the time, you mentioned that some friends and family knew 10 Guy featured your face, so how did they respond to you becoming a meme?

A: I remember my dad thinking it was funny, he thought it was great. My mom was not so enthusiastic, but she's come around and accepted it now. My friends, obviously, all loved it. They used to tell people on nights out and things like that. I also started to get recognized around uni.

Q: So as we know, you didn’t reveal yourself as the individual in 10 Guy even when the meme was at its peak. Can you tell us more about why you specifically kept yourself anonymous and what your concerns were?

A: I was 19 at the time in my year at uni, and I thought it was going to be a short-term thing. I didn’t want to reveal myself for the sake of five minutes of fame and have it haunt me down the line. Like if a job recruiter googled my name. Obviously, the UK hasn’t legalized marijuana, so it still has negative connotations, and I just didn’t want the stress really. I never thought it would last this long, so I just distanced myself from it and any potential repercussions. I was broadly anonymous, but amongst my circle of friends, it was known.


Q: Many meme celebrities from that same timeframe as your own went on to capitalize on their viral fame. Did you ever consider doing something like that for 10 Guy, or was maintaining your anonymity more important?

A: It was something that tempted me and I did get offers, mostly through the Reddit account that uploaded my first photo and then another friend who put up the photo of me and Bill Murray. I think one of them was like a snack food brand in LA or something like that, but I just never went along with any. It's the same as before, I just thought it would be a temporary thing, so I thought the cons would always outweigh the pros. For the sake of a very short-term thing, it could affect me in the long term badly. Even recently I got a call from a board game company that was doing sort of like a Cards Against Humanity thing and they wanted to use my image, but I said no. When I lived in Canada for a while, someone asked me if I wanted to do a comic con, but I never really went forward with it.

I think I was probably being overly cautious now in retrospect cause I've obviously had jobs and any that did find out about [the meme[ didn’t cause an issue or they just think it's funny. Everyone obviously understands now that it's not something that you do to make this kind of thing happen, so everybody's pretty understanding.

H. 0
(Sinclair posing with some fans who recognized him from the meme.)

Q: Despite your ability to keep the meme disassociated from you, did it have any major effects on your career or personal life? Does anyone ever recognize you from the meme out in public or elsewhere?

A: Yeah, my friends love telling people on nights out. They actually don't believe me a lot of the time, but people love it and love taking photos. I’ve traveled a bit and lived in a few different places, and it always just seems to find its way into whatever community I’m in. Like I got recognized one day when I was in the gym at uni just walking by and someone. They got my attention, and I thought that they maybe wanted on the equipment that I was on, but then they were like, “Oh, are you that meme guy?” I was shocked because it was just the middle of the gym in the middle of the day and there I was taking a selfie with these strangers. No matter what, it just seems to find its way into my life, and so I think there's no avoiding it really at this point.

(A meme depicting the first time Sinclair was recognized at uni from 10 Guy.)

Q: In our earlier discussion, you mentioned a wholesome anecdote of 10 Guy’s history and how it actually introduced you to your partner. How’d this moment go down, and can you tell us what your girlfriend thinks of you being a viral meme?

A: [Laughs], yes, that was a night out in Edinburgh when I was with my friends and she was with hers. I think one of the guys in our group got talking to one of the girls and then somebody must have mentioned that I was the meme. I don't think any of her friends really cared apart from her, but she asked for a photo and that was it. I got her details, and we started seeing each other from there. We lived just down the road from each other and shopped in the same shops for over a year and had never bumped into each other apart from then. It's been six years since last month, and we've got our house and a dog. So yeah, it's the perfect setup [laughs]. It's funny, I probably wouldn't have had the audacity to approach her otherwise.

(Sinclair and his girlfriend Lucy, who actually met due to the meme.)

Q: So more recently, you finally decided to come forward and publicly announce you were 10 Guy. What ultimately led to this decision? Why now after nearly a decade of keeping it secret?

A: I’m not going to deny the NFT thing is a part of it. It’s very exciting, and it's a cool community. It's full of legitimate artists too, but for some reason, memes are seen as valuable on it so it would be silly not to make the most of it, in my opinion. I’m also a lot more settled and not as nervous about coming forward. Any jobs I’ve had in the past, they either find out and they are fine with it or they know beforehand and think it's funny. People can appreciate it was just by chance.

I've never made any money from the meme. The only things I've had out of this were like free drinks on occasion, and I've never taken a job related to it or anything like that. I don't feel like I'm owed anything, it's just very fun and interesting. It would be an opportunity that if I didn't take, I would probably regret. Another reason why I decided to come forward is that people in the past have pretended to be me, so it was in the back of my mind that I should probably get ahead of it before somebody else maybe takes advantage of the situation.

Q: You mentioned your intent to get in on the recent meme NFT craze with a 10 Guy crypto-collectible coming up soon. Where’d you first learn about crypto art, and why’d you decide to create your own for 10 Guy?

A: Yeah so as soon as some of the memes started selling [as NFTs], I was getting bombarded with messages from my techie friends. I think Bad Luck Brian was first and then Laina, Overly Attached Girlfriend, and since then they’ve nearly all done it. I just sent out a few messages to some of the guys on Twitter and they got back to me and convinced me to do it. I had to legitimize myself by sending selfies with my Twitter username on a piece of paper, which seemed to work! So Chris Torres, creator of Nyan Cat, replied and then Kyle Craven gave me a call and really convinced me. He's a great guy actually and has been super helpful. It kinda made me almost regret not getting involved ever because it feels like there's a little club here. It proves that we're all in the same boat together, so it's kind of a thing that would have been interesting to get more involved in.

Q: Although not as popular as it once was, 10 Guy is still an iconic meme, so what is it about your meme that you think made it so popular at the time? What made it so “memeable?”

A: I think the timing lined up with cultural changes in drug culture in America, to be honest, with legalization and things like that. Also, my face in it is just ridiculous. I'm clearly in a bad way but also just incredibly happy with myself. People really seemed to relate to it. I suppose everybody has been in that state where maybe they realize they've gone a bit overboard but they're still enjoying it.

Q: Do you think your meme is particularly funny? What’s your opinion on 10 Guy currently, and has this changed over time?

A: Well, I don’t like the picture! [laughs] But I think it's not really what I look like today. They do make me laugh though. I enjoy that my face has given some very funny people a platform to express it. A lot of them have drawn people with actual experiences, and sometimes you have to sit back and think, “I can't believe that somebody said or did that.” I guess I'm happy that it's almost like a canvas for people to express themselves and view their experiences and things like that, so I'm happy enough.


Q: Of the thousands of 10 Guy memes, do you have any favorites or some you think are the funniest?

A: The very first one I thought was great, the best ones are relatable to things that have maybe happened to me, getting your words mixed up or just odd behaviors that make sense when you’re intoxicated, shall we say, but are completely mad to the outside observer. I think we've all had moments like that.

Q: Aside from 10 Guy, can you tell us any recent memes or trends you particularly enjoy right now?

A: Woman Yelling at a Cat always makes me laugh — just so stupid. The Spider-Man ones as well for some reason. Hide the Pain Harold's expression is great, and First World Problems is something that gets referenced all the time. Disaster Girl is another I find really funny. This whole thing has made me reminisce a lot.

Girls when they see a spider The spider
(A Woman Yelling at a Cat meme, one of Sinclair's favorite formats.)

Q: Do you have an all-time favorite meme from any time period?

A: I think it's hard to look past the Rickroll. People are still getting done with that one every day, and it's still just as infuriating [laughs]. Or similar to that is the Peyton Manning Face with the hood. People get tricked with that all the time on Reddit, and I love it every single time it happens.

Q: In closing here, the final question we’d like you to answer is on the legacy of 10 Guy. So, coming up on the 10-year anniversary, how do you want 10 Guy and its legacy in internet culture to be remembered in another decade from now?

A: It’s insane to think that that photo of me has existed online and people have been sharing it and making memes for a decade. I suppose 10 years is like ancient history online, so it is a part of internet culture now. I'm just happy that it makes people laugh and can bring people a bit of joy. I can’t say more than that. I’ve mentioned elsewhere, but since it started on /r/trees I would love to do an NFT for charity in collaboration with Reddit and donate any profit to a tree-planting charity to offset any climate issues and use the meme as a bit of a force for good! Hopefully, that will happen, but that's maybe the legacy that I would like to leave.

Q: Well, it’s been great speaking with you and getting the chance to finally know the truth behind 10 Guy. Any parting words to end on?

A: Thanks very much for having me. Please give me a follow on Twitter and Instagram @10guyofficial, YouTube is 10 Guy Official too. Keep an eye out for my NFT dropping very soon. I’m @10guy on Foundation. So, yeah, thanks for listening.

Sinclair seen taking a picture with Bill Murray in 2012.

Watch our interview with 10 Guy below for the video version of our discussion.

Connor Sinclair is a UK-based resident depicted in the 10 Guy meme, which appeared online back in 2011. You can follow Sinclair on Twitter, Instagram and YouTube or check out his Foundation page to learn more about his upcoming NFT auction.

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