Skip to main content

Mom Threatens Lawsuit Over Steve King’s Use of ‘Success Kid’ Meme


Iowa Republican Rep. Steve King (R-Iowa) is facing one mom’s wrath over his unauthorized use of her son’s photo.

Monday afternoon, King took a break from posting his usual anti-immigrant memes and Adam Schiff jokes to put out an ad asking that campaign donors “fund our memes.”

The ad read, “Do you like funny memes? You’re a human being, so of course you do… Then please support our campaign today to keep the memes flowing and the Lefties triggered.”

The child pictured in the internet-famous photo known as “Success Kid” is Sam Griner; Sam’s mother, Laney Marie Griner, sent a cease and desist letter to King accusing the congressman of willfully infringing on her copyright and violating her son’s likeness rights by using the photo in his own fundraising efforts. According to The Hollywood Reporter, the letter, sent by Stephen D. Rothschild of King Holmes Paterno & Soriano on Griner’s behalf, states that King “falsely implied that ‘Success Kid’ is somehow associated with and supports [his] campaign,” and that the posting “misrepresented to the general public that [King was] acting on behalf of and even have some proprietary interest in ‘Success Kid’ and Sam’s image…”

Griner herself tweeted, “Neither I, my son, nor ‘Success Kid’ have any affiliation with Representative King, nor would we have ever agreed to this use.” Griner added, “I do not endorse Representative King and, like most people, I strongly disagree with his views.”

King made headlines this summer for stating his beliefs that there would hardly be “any population of the world left” if rape and incest had not occurred throughout history.

Per Griner’s letter, King has until 9 a.m. PST on Wednesday morning to remove the unauthorized photo from any sites associated with him or his campaign. The removal isn’t all, though. The letter also requests that King provide an accounting of all funds received in response to the “Success Kid” post, and provide proof that it is refunding those donations directly to donors and notifying them that Griner is not associated with his campaign. Griner also requests that King contact her to discuss reasonable compensation for the use of her son’s photo.

[Steve King via NBC screengrab]

Have a tip we should know? [email protected]

Filed Under:

Follow Law&Crime:

Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos