Super Bowl memes: All hail Selfie Kid, Left Shark is fin-ished

Social media scored big with jokes about Tom Brady's entrance, Justin Timberlake's homage to Prince and that temporary blackout.

Gael Cooper
CNET editor Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, a journalist and pop-culture junkie, is co-author of "Whatever Happened to Pudding Pops? The Lost Toys, Tastes and Trends of the '70s and '80s," as well as "The Totally Sweet '90s." She's been a journalist since 1989, working at Mpls.St.Paul Magazine, Twin Cities Sidewalk, the Minneapolis Star Tribune, and NBC News Digital. She's Gen X in birthdate, word and deed. If Marathon candy bars ever come back, she'll be first in line.
Expertise Breaking news, entertainment, lifestyle, travel, food, shopping and deals, product reviews, money and finance, video games, pets, history, books, technology history, and generational studies Credentials
  • Co-author of two Gen X pop-culture encyclopedia for Penguin Books. Won "Headline Writer of the Year"​ award for 2017, 2014 and 2013 from the American Copy Editors Society. Won first place in headline writing from the 2013 Society for Features Journalism.
Gael Cooper
2 min read

In ye olden days, there was only the big game. Slowly, the enormously expensive commercials staked out their own place in pop-culture history. Trailers for upcoming blockbuster movies have their own devotees too. But now every year's Super Bowl brings with it something else: a locker room full of social-media memes, commenting on and poking fun at everything from the commercials to sideline shots to the inevitable technical difficulties that come with America's biggest sporting event of the year.

Selfie kid

This year, one of the top meme moments involved a young fan (later identified as Ryan McKenna, 13, of Massachusetts) who grabbed himself a selfie with halftime performer Justin Timberlake. The boy, who probably wasn't even an embryo when Timberlake broke out, was captured using his phone, and many suggested he was using it to identify who the heck the former NSYNC star really was.

Tom Brady's entrance

Long before Selfie Kid emerged as the game's top meme, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady made an impressive supervillain-style entrance that online jokesters, including journalist Ronan Farrow, were quick to caption.

Royal tribute

There was an online controversy over the weekend when word came out that Timberlake planned a hologram version of Minnesota's own Prince at the musician's hometown Super Bowl. Prince's protege Sheila E. tweeted that the musician would've been horrified, and that she spoke to Timberlake, who dropped the plan.

Instead, Timberlake showed video of Prince on what appeared to be a large bedsheet, which didn't please everyone.


At one point during the game, the television broadcast cut to a black screen, confusing some fans and bringing out the jokey best in others.