Will Kyle Rittenhouse Monetize His Newfound Fame Like Trayvon Martin's Killer?

[CBS Morning][YouTube]

Damir Mujezinovic

Seventeen-year-old Kyle Rittenhouse wounded one and killed two people in Kenosha, Wisconsin, in the summer of 2020, during the Black Lives Matter protests.

His trial attracted nationwide attention and polarized Americans along partisan and racial lines, with conservatives praising his actions and liberals describing him as a violent vigilante.

This week, the jury acquitted Rittenhouse of all charges, which was welcomed by right-leaning members of the public and prominent conservative figures.

Some believe Rittenhouse now has a chance to monetize his newfound popularity.

George Zimmerman

In 2012, 28-year-old Hispanic American George Zimmerman fatally shot Trayvon Martin, a 17-year-old African-American. Martin was unarmed, and Zimmerman shot him while serving as the neighborhood watch coordinator in his gated community.

Zimmerman claimed to have acted in self-defense and was ultimately acquitted of all charges. After his acquittal, as Newsweek noted, Zimmerman started making money off his fame.

He sold paintings online, one of which was sold for more than $100,000 on eBay, though it later turned out that it was copied from a stock photo.

Will Rittenhouse Cash In?

Dr. Karen Dill-Shackleford, a faculty member in the Media Psychology Doctoral Program at Fielding Graduate University, told Newsweek that Rittenhouse could easily find a high-profile job.

"The public is interested in seeing people who are like them. He is a young man, and he looks sort of like the boy next door and very clean-cut," she explained.

Dill-Shackleford said that many people tend to view Rittenhouse as a "symbol of someone who took power back himself," in an era where everything seems to be out of control and millions of Americans are "angry for one reason or another."

Media, Politics

Dill-Shackleford added that she could foresee Rittenhouse landing a job at a conservative-leaning television network, such as Fox News.

"Could that happen? Yeah, of course, people have come from all kinds of different backgrounds and ended up in the media," she said.

The expert added that she would not be surprised if the National Rifle Association (NRA) approached Rittenhouse with a lucrative offer, telling him, "Okay, you're a poster child for a boy growing up in America who just wants to protect himself," or if some conservative organization hired him as a spokesperson.

'Whole Realm Of Possibilities'

[YouTube][ABC 7 Chicago]

There is a "whole realm of possibilities" open for Rittenhouse now that he has been acquitted, according to Dr. Rita Kirk, a professor of communication studies at Southern Methodist University in Texas.

"I'm sure people will come to him with a book deal," Kirk said, noting that she believes Rittenhouse could be offered a public speaking gig, or hired as a gun rights advocate.

Some have speculated that Rittenhouse could run for Congress, but Kirk dismissed that possibility, saying that the young man has "got a long way to go before hearing Congress."