UPDATED, 5/27: Beloved meme video “Charlie Bit My Finger” was set to be deleted from YouTube — after the family behind the 14-year-old viral clip sold it as a non-fungible token (NFT) for $760,999 on May 23.
But it turns out that the well-known artifact of YouTube’s early days will be staying on the video platform.
In the video, which was uploaded in May 2007 and became one of the first on YouTube to cross over into mainstream culture, 3-year-old British tyke Harry sticks his finger into his 1-year-old brother’s maw. “Ow, Charlie! Ow! Charlie! That really hurt!” Harry says, as his baby bro giggles. “Charlie bit me. And that really hurt, Charlie, and it’s still hurting.”
Earlier this month, the U.K.’s Davies-Carr family (whose kids are featured in the classic video) said they would auction off “Charlie Bit My Finger” as an NFT, which uses blockchain technology to provide verified proof of ownership for digital assets. NFTs have exploded in popularity in 2021, creating a craze for digital collectibles (often paid for in cryptocurrency).
The NFT winner will be “the sole owner of this lovable piece of internet history,” according to the family’s site for the auction. In addition to owning the “soon-to-be-deleted YouTube phenomenon,” the buyer also will “have the opportunity to create their own parody of the video featuring the original stars, Harry and Charlie.”
However, the boys’ dad, Howard Davies-Carr, now says “Charlie Bit My Finger” will not be deleted. “After the auction we connected with the buyer, who ended up deciding to keep the video on YouTube,” Davies-Carr told tech-news site Quartz. “The buyer felt that the video is an important part of popular culture and shouldn’t be taken down. It will now live on YouTube for the masses to continue enjoying as well as memorialized as an NFT on the blockchain.”
The NFT auction of “Charlie Bit My Finger” was won by a user with the screen name “3fmusic” on Sunday, May 23, with a bid of $760,999. A Twitter account with the same name — which on Sunday tweeted “CHARLIE BIT ME!” — describes 3F Music as “one of the best and well equipped music studios in [the] Middle East” based in Dubai, but it’s not clear that is the same entity that won the NFT auction.
It’s unclear what kind of cachet may come with “owning” the original “Charlie Bit My Finger” video as an NFT but, hey, it’s a free market.
Davies-Carr earlier told CBS News that the money from the NFT sale “means that Harry goes to university and has a nice place to stay and doesn’t have to have a bar job.”
The original YouTube video (officially titled “Charlie bit my finger – again !”) is available at this link. The clip has racked up more than 883 million views to date.