Former United States presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders has raised $1.8 million for charity days after going viral on the internet.
The 79-year-old lawmaker from Vermont was photographed sitting alone, donning a parka, mittens and a light blue mask and the internet went frenzy with memes.
Sanders announced on Wednesday that he has raised $1.8 million for charity over the past five days through sales of merchandise on his website, featuring him wearing the knit mittens and parka at President Joe Biden's January 20 inauguration.
"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 said 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"
The groups receiving charitable funds include the Vermont operations of Meals on Wheels and the Vermont Parent Child Network, among others.
The first batch of what has been dubbed "Chairman Sanders" merchandise sold out in 30 minutes after the items, which include sweatshirts and T-shirts, were made available online Thursday. There is now a weeks-long backlog of orders.
The viral image was captured by Agence France Presse photographer Brendan Smialowski.
Getty Images, the agency that distributes AFP images in the United States, will also donate its proceeds from the license to Meals on Wheels America.
The now-famous mittens were made by Jen Ellis, a Vermont elementary school teacher. The mittens were made out of recycled wool.
The Chairman Sanders memes have taken over social media timelines, with his photograph juxtaposed on innumerable locations, like taking a seat on the subway, the moon and the couch with the cast of Friends. Websites to have popped up which allow the user to make a meme of the senator seated in popular places around the world.
Meanwhile, a handmade crocheted doll of Sanders' in his inauguration outfit sold for $20,300 on eBay.
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