Bernie Sanders is taking his new meme status as a compliment — and turning it into some iconic merchandise for a good cause.
The Vermont senator and former presidential hopeful, 79, went viral this week after Wednesday’s inauguration of President Joe Biden, during which Sanders stole the show with his cozy attire and overtly casual demeanor.
Sanders’ campaign store is selling sweatshirts featuring the photo that inspired countless memes, and all the proceeds are going to Meals on Wheels programs in Sanders’ home state of Vermont.
The black crewneck showed Sanders, 79, seated with his arms crossed while wearing a cozy parka, mittens made by a Vermont schoolteacher, slacks, brown shoes and, of course, a blue mask.
The $45 black crewneck sweatshirt is made in the USA and union printed, in true Sanders fashion.The sweatshirt seems to be as popular as the meme — it’s currently sold out “due to overwhelming demand,” according to the campaign store website, which notes it could take up to eight weeks to receive the item.
“100% of proceeds go toward Meals on Wheels Vermont,” the website shared.
The photo of Sanders at the inaugural event got the meme treatment with people editing him into everything from him in a scene with Ryan Reynolds in Deadpool to the Sex and the City gal group, and even as Patrick Swayze’s character in Ghost.
The Senator used his viral moment to shout-out Vermont.
“It makes people aware that we make good mittens in Vermont,” Sanders told NBC News’ Garrett Haake.
At President Joe Biden’s Inauguration Day ceremony, Agence France-Presse photographer Brendan Smialowski snapped two pictures of Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders taking a seat distanced from other people.
“The picture itself is not that nice. It’s not a great composition. I’m not going to be putting this in a portfolio,” Smialowski told Rolling Stone.
According to yahoo news, the photographer said that despite Sanders’ supposedly “grumpy” appearance, the senator was talking with people at the ceremony and wasn’t sitting alone the entire time as the single image suggests. But he said he thinks the photo captured Sanders’ apparent sense of independence.
“You can say that Senator Sanders is politically independent and I think he’s probably personally independent, too. I think he’s probably perfectly comfortable coming out there, sitting alone, holding his papers and then going back in to do the rest of his day,” Smialowski said.