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Misconceptions

10 Viral Stories With Unexpected Twist Endings

Morris M.


Have you ever found yourself clicking on an old viral video or reading an article from 2012 and wondering, “Whatever happened to that guy?” Usually, the answer is “not much.” But occasionally, a story has life after the news crews have moved on. Sometimes, it even makes you completely rethink what went before.

10The Monkey Jesus Woman Is Now A Real (Rich) Artist

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Remember Monkey Jesus? The handiwork of Spanish pensioner Cecilia Gimenez, the botched restoration appeared everywhere from Saturday Night Live to the New York Times. It also resulted in the authorities in Borja considering legal action against the talentless artist.

Thanks to the global publicity, Monkey Jesus became a bona fide tourist attraction, drawing 57,000 people in its first year. Owners of the church housing the painting charged each of them €1 for entry, dividing the profits evenly with Gimenez. The pensioner also got a large chunk of the merchandising rights, turning her once ill-fated painting into a money-spinner.

Even more impressively, Gimenez used the painting to launch her own semi-successful art career. A 2013 exhibition of two dozen paintings was overwhelmed with visitors, while 2014 saw her star in her own music video. The authorities of Borja now claim Gimenez saved their town’s economy. As for Monkey Jesus itself, the New York Times is now calling it a “profound pop art icon.”



9The Bed Intruder Guy Had A Boxing Match (With The Actual Intruder)


The year 2010 was memorable for many reasons—terrifying earthquakes and the near-collapse of Greece being just two—but some of us remembered it mainly for the Bed Intruder guy, Antoine Dodson. An Alabama resident who became famous for giving a bizarre local news interview after his sister almost got raped, Dodson was widely parodied until he became a cult celebrity. It’s hard to see how his story could’ve gotten any stranger . . . until Dodson organized a celebrity boxing match with the alleged rapist.

By 2014, Dodson had used his fame to make a pile of money and appear on dozens of chat shows. He’d also apparently risen above the rigid confines of the legal system, because when the actual Bed Intruder came forward looking for some of that fame, he organized a fight with the man instead of turning him in. The boxing match took place in November 2014 and resulted in Dodson beating the Intruder after a single round. In a further bizarre twist, the Intruder is now claiming he wasn’t an intruder at all but was actually dating Dodson’s sister at the time of the alleged rape attempt.

8The Chilean Miners Were Cheated By Their Insurance Company

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Photo credit: Gobierno de Chile

The most inspirational moment of 2010 was perhaps the miners finally being freed after the Copiapo mining accident. After two months of being trapped underground following a mine collapse, the 33 finally returned to the surface with cries of “viva Chile!” It was such a profound moment that Hollywood immediately snapped up the film rights, and the entire world was left basking in the warm afterglow of unexpected good news.

Now, though, the story is painfully tragic. Most of the miners are unemployed, struggling with depression, and surrounded by people resentful of their fame. As an additional kick in the teeth, the mine’s insurance company had given them all a clean bill of health, despite some of them being so traumatized they could barely leave the house. One was so shaken up by his ordeal that he couldn’t stop crying, while others reported that former friends now shunned them.

The mine owners have yet to pay a penny in compensation. A lawsuit is currently dragging its way through the courts, but its resolution could take years.



7‘One Pound Fish’ Man Became A Wanted Fugitive


In 2012, Pakistan-born London trader Shahid Nazir was caught on camera trying to lure customers to his fish stall with a self-written song titled “One Pound Fish.” The footage became a monster hit, garnering millions of views, getting Nazir a place on X-Factor, and landing him a recording contract to make a slick, professional video of his song. It was the ultimate rags-to-riches tale for the Internet age, until Pakistan issued an arrest warrant indicting Nazir for fraud.

The lovable “One Pound Fish” Man had taken out a 6.6-million rupee loan back home and refused to pay it back. When the courts ordered him to appear before a judge, Nazir failed to turn up for three whole months, prompting the police to issue a formal arrest warrant. After briefly giving Pakistani police the runaround, he was formally indicted in March 2014 and forced to appear before a Lahore court.

6The Ebola Nurse Sued Her Hospital


In fall 2014, Nina Pham became a global celebrity in the worst way possible. A worker at Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital in Dallas, she became the first person to contract Ebola on US soil. Although Pham ultimately survived to be reunited with her beloved dog in touching scenes broadcast around the world, she still suffers from the aftereffects of her brush with death. She’s also suing her hospital for lax safety practices and misusing her image for publicity.

According to Pham’s suit, Texas Health Presbyterian didn’t ask for volunteers to treat Ebola patients. They ordered Pham in with no more information than what she’d heard on TV. Then, when she got sick, they used her name and face to drum up good publicity without ever consulting her. This included ambushing her in quarantine with a video camera and getting her to agree to statements that absolved them of any blame. Her suit also contradicts statements made by the hospital that they had followed full CDC procedure.

5The Three-Breasted Woman Became A Meme Machine


In September 2014, 21-year-old Jasmine Tridevil claimed that she’d had a third breast surgically implanted. The story was so irresistible that outlets across the world ran with it, until it was revealed to be a hoax and we all got on with our lives. But this wasn’t the only viral story launched by the woman.

In 2013, a Florida woman supposedly chose not to turn her attacker over to the police, provided he stand beside the roadside wearing a sign saying “I beat women, honk if I’m a scumbag.” It was an Internet sensation, and it came courtesy of Tridevil’s alter-ego, Alisha Jasmine Hessler. Hessler apparently has skill with this. Her Florida-area business listings were changed after the triple-breasted story broke to claim she’s a “provider of Internet hoaxes.”

As of March 2015, she appears to now be getting her kicks talking to tabloid newspapers about her status as a hoaxer.



4Viktor Yanukovych Joined Forces With Oliver Stone

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Photo credit: Oliver Stone

In February 2014, Ukrainian president Viktor Yanukovych fled the country. He’d been accused of ordering his security forces to murder around 100 protesters, along with other charges relating to corruption, so it seemed only a matter of time before we’d see Yanukovych either before the ICC or sitting at Vladimir Putin’s right-hand side. Instead, the former president vanished. The world knew he was almost certainly in Russia, but what he was doing in his exile was anyone’s guess.

On December 30, 2014, director Oliver Stone posted the above photo of himself and the deposed president hanging out together in Moscow. According to Stone, the director was interviewing Yanukovych for a new documentary and was now convinced the Ukrainian revolution was a CIA-backed coup to empower neo-Nazis in Kiev.

At that point, this was the most the media had heard from Yanukovych in almost a year. A couple of months later, Yanukovych returned to the airwaves again—this time promising to return to Ukraine in the near-future.

3Robin Thicke Was Sued For Plagiarism


“Blurred Lines” was one of 2013’s biggest hits. For a period, Robin Thicke was everywhere. Then he dropped a new album that shifted as few as 54 copies in some countries, and the artist seemingly vanished into obscurity. Now, Thicke is finding himself on the receiving end of a lawsuit for plagiarism.

In September 2014, musicologists paid by the Gaye estate found eight elements of “Blurred Lines” directly lifted from Marvin Gaye’s 1977 song “Got to Give it Up.” A month later, a judge ruled there were grounds to take the case to trial, and Thicke and Pharrell Williams found themselves defending their ditty in court. The case ground on for a while, with Thicke’s defense seeming to consist of: “I was high, blame Pharrell.” That didn’t fly with the court; just yesterday, the Gaye estate won its case and was awarded over $7 million. With plenty of that coming from album and song sales ($16 million worth), it’s conceivable that Thicke’s finances may soon go the same way as his career.

2Charlie Hebdo Fell Out Over Money

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Photo credit: Renald Luzier

The January 7 attacks on Charlie Hebdo’s offices in France were among the most disturbing in recent memory. But, for once, such a dark cloud came with a noticeable silver lining. People rallied worldwide in solidarity with the victims, and Charlie Hebdo’s sales spiked. From being a financially troubled magazine with a circulation of 60,000, Charlie Hebdo became a brand with sales of around eight million.

A couple of months later, the editorial team have now fallen out over money and the future of the magazine. The issue stems from the company currently only having two surviving shareholders, who stand to make a lot of money off Charlie’s newfound fame. Many of the surviving columnists and writers are calling for the company to become a cooperative so everyone can get a share, but the new editor (a shareholder) is resisting the move.

There’s also bad blood over the last time Charlie turned a profit: after publishing its first cartoons of Muhammad in 2006. The four shareholders divided all the money among themselves, without kicking any down to the creative staff. Many of the staffers considered this a betrayal from the left-wing magazine and are worried the same will happen again. So far, the shareholders are refusing to budge.

1Lee Rigby’s Killers Were Connected To MI6

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Photo credit: H. Szymanski

The murder of British Army fusilier Lee Rigby on May 22, 2013 was in many ways as shocking as the Charlie Hebdo massacre. In broad daylight on a crowded London street, two Nigerian extremists ran Rigby over then tried to decapitate him with a cleaver. In the aftermath of the suspects’ arrest, it was revealed that Britain’s security services had been aware of the killers and intended to place them under surveillance. Their failure to do so was dismissed as merely bad luck.

At any rate, that was the official version. In 2014, it emerged that MI6 had been more involved with the killers than anyone had predicted. According to The Independent, the spy agency had previously tried to recruit one of Rigby’s killers as a double agent. After following Michael Adebolajo to Kenya, they’d had him arrested, tortured, and set up to become a homegrown asset. Damningly, when this tactic failed, they denied any intimate knowledge of Adebolajo, despite having also tried to recruit his brother.

As of March 2015, Prime Minister David Cameron has launched a new enquiry into the torture of Adebolajo in Kenya.

Morris M.

Morris is a freelance writer and newly-qualified teacher, still naively hoping to make a difference in his students' lives. You can send your helpful and less-than-helpful comments to his email, or visit some of the other websites that inexplicably hire him.

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