A viral coronavirus prank that tricks people into opening a very NSFW picture has a tragic backstory — and the photographer responsible for the racy snap is hoping to turn the meme’s fame into a good cause.
This week, countless individuals have been tricked into thinking they are opening a vital update about the coronavirus — only to find a picture of a very well-endowed, naked man sitting on the edge of a bed, his penis in full view. There are a few different versions of the viral text message, with Vice noting that one had information about a confirmed case of the virus around the San Diego area with a warning from officials to avoid public transit. Another version had an announcement about massive closures in New York City.
But the report added that there is a tragic backstory to the meme. The outlet traced the photo back to a website advertising nude male models, finding that the man went just by the name “Wood.” When they reached out to ask the model about his unexpected fame, they received a sad response.
“I’m sorry to hear that Wood’s image has been used in such a way. It’s quite shameful,” replied Walter Smith, the owner of the website. “Unfortunately, Wood passed away several years ago. Our images from him are from 2011.”
A report from TMZ noted that the man had died back in 2016, adding that there was no further information on his identity. Smith said that because the model was deceased and could not give his consent, he would not release his real name.
Smith has now decided to turn the coronavirus prank into a way to help Wood’s family. There are already a number of vendors cashing in off the image, printing T-shirts and other memorabilia for people who apparently want to memorialize the prank. Smith told TMZ that while he does not own the rights to the photo anymore, he is reaching out to the vendors selling images of it and asking if they would donate profits from the merchandise to the man’s family.
It’s not clear yet if any of them were willing to help, but there still seems to be more attention coming for the well-endowed man. The penis picture continued to make the rounds via text message, with many taking to social media to share their stories of being fooled — including a post on Reddit that showed someone who forwarded the message to all of their work colleagues without clicking the link or realizing where it took them.