Tons of people wish they could be rich and famous, but few people actually manage to accomplish this, even after years of going on auditions and putting themselves out there. Many people spend loads of time daydreaming about having masses of adoring fans, hanging out with celebrities, or living a luxurious life. Normally, this takes years of hard work, and it is almost impossible for anyone to have an “overnight success”. Keep in mind that “famous” is not synonymous with “successful”, so not everyone on this list was able to leverage their 15 minutes of fame into a full-time career. Here are 20 stories of people who were at the right place at the right time, and became famous overnight.
20. Mason Ramsey
No would would ever imagine that country yodeling would ever come back in style, but for one 11-year old boy named Mason Ramsey, he single-handedly brought it back. Growing up, Mason would listen Hank Williams, a country music star from the 1940’s, at his grandparents house. From a very young age, Mason was copying the yodeling he heard on the old records, and his grandparents wanted to show his talent to the world.His grandparents started taking him to Walmart to yodel for shoppers in Southern Illinois, since it was one of the only public venues where he could perform.
Eventually, someone actually did take notice, because they recorded him on their cellphones. A YouTube video titled “Walmart Yodeling Kid” was uploaded to YouTube of an 11-year old named Mason Ramsey. He was incredibly talented, and the world realized this too, as the video went viral. Ellen Degeneres had him on her show, and he was invited to sing at the famous Grand Ole Opry. At the time this article was written, he is signed to Atlantic Records, and he is already launching his music career. He has released a few singles and music videos. Considering that he is still only in elementary school, there is no telling just how famous he will be in the future.
19. Jane Park
In 2012 a Scottish 17-year old named Jane Park won the EuroMillions lottery. She was working in an office making minimum wage when she learned that the lottery ticket she had purchased was worth one million pounds. Since she was too young to to even drink champagne when she won, so they gave her soda, instead. She became famous overnight, because her face and name were in all of the newspapers about the lucky teenager who was starting her life out with so much money. The EuroMillions attempted to give her a financial advisor to work with to help her manage her money. But she says that at such a young age, she could not really understand the concepts behind growing her money though investing and saving.
Jane Park listened to her family and friends instead, who all told her to buy whatever she wanted. She got plastic surgery, bought a few cars, a house, and a lot of fashion. After all of that spending, she realized that it changed her life in a negative way, because she doesn’t know who truly cares about her, and who is trying to get to her money. She has 127,000 followers on Instagram. With that many followers, she is able to work together with brands who are willing to pay her to promote their products through her Instagram, but besides that, she claimed on a TV show called This Morning that winning the lottery made her life “miserable”. She thinks that 17 is far too young to suddenly become a millionaire overnight, and she sued the EuroMillions lottery to change their policy of allowing under-aged people to become winners.
18. Arshad Khan
An incredibly attractive young Pakistani man named Arshad Khan made tea for a living in the city of Islamabad. In 2016, someone snapped a photo of him as he worked, and posted it on the internet. He could not even afford a cellphone at the time, so he had no idea that his picture had gone viral online with people going nuts. Arshad was tracked down by a modeling agency, and he has now appeared in several clothing ads. He was even able to appear on a few TV series, as well. Arshad Khan has become famous for his rags-to-riches story.
17. Cindy Kimberly
Sometimes, all you need to become famous overnight is to get a celebrity to promote you. Easier said than done, right? A seventeen year old Spanish High School student named Cindy Kimberly became famous after Justin Bieber posted a photo of her online, asking, “OMG who is this?!” Since then, the Internet tracked her down, and she was able to score a modeling contract.
16. Alana Thompson, AKA “Honey Boo-Boo”
Alana Thompson was a child beauty pageant contestant who appeared on an episode of TLC’s Toddlers and Tiaras. She and her mother, June, both captivated audiences with their personalities, and despite not being the traditional beauties, they had a lot of confidence and love for one another. Alana and her family was eventually given their own reality TV show called “Here Comes Honey Boo-Boo”. She and her family became famous practically overnight, and she was appearing on interviews and was even parodied on South Park. In 2017, the family appeared again in a series called “Mama June: From Not to Hot”, where they documented her mother’s weight loss surgery transformation. In 2018, Alana appeared on Dancing with the Stars, and the Netflix original movie Dumplin seems to be inspired by Honey Boo Boo. At the time this article was written, she is still only 13 years old, so only time will tell where Alana takes her career in the future.
15. Kalen Allen
In 2017, a college student at Temple University named Kalen Allen posted a video of himself critiquing a cooking video on Facebook. He kept himself incredibly busy with 5 jobs around campus, so he didn’t think much else of it. Kalen thought that the critique video would only circulate to his friends, but it was so genuinely funny, that people started to share the video with their friends, and it quickly started to go viral. The video had been shared over 5,000 times in just a few hours, and it only grew from there. He started making more food critiques, calling them “Kalen Reacts”, and uploaded the videos on YouTube, where they now get millions of hits. Kalen got the attention of comedian Ellen Degeneres, who thought that he was funny enough to come work for her. He now produces the same “Kalen Reacts” content, only he gets to do it under the payroll of Ellen’s studio in Los Angeles.
14. Zeddie Watkins Little
You may have seen the meme of the “ridiculously photogenic guy” who was smiling while he ran a marathon. Somehow, this guy has the magical ability to still look handsome, while everyone else around them is sweating and looking gross. His photo was spread across the internet and turned into a meme that made him famous practically overnight. Not many people know his name, but this is Zeddie Watkins Little. After receiving a lot of recognition, he appeared on Good Morning America to announce that he was using his fifteen minutes of fame to run another marathon to help raise money for a good cause. Zeddie Watkins did not use this meme to propel any kind of career in the entertainment industry, but people still know who he is.
13. Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto
Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto was a computer engineer minding his own business in his California home. One day, Nakamoto was detained by the FBI, and his home was raided. They let him know that he was under suspicion of being a wanted criminal. The person they were looking for is also called “Satoshi Nakamoto”, but it is an alias used by the person (or people) who created blockchain technology and Bitcoin. Even to this day, no one knows the true identity of the mysterious founder. Unfortunately for Dorian Satoshi Nakamoto, he had the same name. He denied having anything to do with Bitcoin, and was eventually let free. However, his image was now circulating around the internet, and he was turned into a meme. At first, he was angry about this, but after realizing that Bitcoin users loved him, he learned to embrace his fame, and actually ended up making a lot of money from donations given to him, as well.
12. Amber Heard
Becoming an actor or actress is typically a long road of working hard before receiving recognition, but there is not always a moment that sparks overnight fame and success. For years, Amber Heard was a small-time actress on TV shows and low-budget movies. Even though she was beautiful and talented, she was far from being a household name. Her whole life changed when she was cast in a movie called The Rum Diary, starring Johnny Depp. The movie was not extremely successful, and starring in the film would not have been enough to make Amber Heard famous. But the two co-stars fell in love, and it was enough for Johnny Depp to break up with Vanessa Paradis, who was his partner for 14 years. Amber Heard and Johnny Depp got married, which was shocking, because he only had a partnership with Vanessa Paradis. Suddenly, Amber Heard was front-page news. Even though she had been working for years, it was really only after getting together with Johnny Depp that the world was really paying attention. They have broken up since then, but Amber Heard has gone out on her own. Today, she is far more famous than she ever was before, and recently co-starred in the Aquaman movie.
11. Alex From Target
Sometimes, all it takes is getting a job to become famous. In 2014, a 16-year old boy named Alex Lee was working part-time as a cashier at a Target in Texas. Lee had only been working there for just 3 months, when someone took a cheeky photo of him with their cellphone. They posted it on Twitter to gush about how hot they thought he was. His picture was passed around the Internet, and people began to make jokes like, “I was checking you out!” That very same day, his manager approached him, showing him the picture. And a group of young girls who he didn’t know came in to show him his Twitter. He went from 140 followers to over 5,000 in just a few hours, when he was still working his shift.
He got half a million followers on Twitter very quickly. After appearing on the Ellen DeGeneres show, his Twitter now has over a million followers. Since he was invited to multiple interviews out in Los Angeles, it caused him to run into some problems with his High School for too many absences. He became home schooled, and took classes online. This was probably wise, because girls started to show up to his house wanting to see him, like he was already huge celebrity. He went on tour for about a month, and then created a YouTube channel. At the time this article was written, Alex’s 15 minutes of fame is over, and he has not uploaded any new videos in over a year. He has gone back to High School to finish his education, but only time will tell if he will have a modeling or acting career in the future.
10. Lionel Messi
Lionel Messi was born with struggled with a growth hormone deficiency during his childhood, and he had to receive medical treatments in order to catch up to speed with his peers. However, he was extremely talented at soccer, and his parents put him through growth hormone treatments to help him grow. Even though he is shorter than average, he is still extremely fast and skilled at playing the game. Lionel Messi was discovered by a recruiter while he was playing a game at his soccer club. He became one of the youngest people to get a professional athletic contract. Normally, it takes years for a young soccer player to be good enough to be considered famous. Lionel Messi is so incredibly good at soccer, that he was able to get a contract and join a starting lineup almost immediately. His talent made him famous overnight. Lionel Messi is now considered to be one of the most talented soccer players of all time.
9. Nusret Gökçe AKA “SaltBae”
A Turkish man named Nusret Gökçe is a professional chef and restaurant owner of a steakhouse called Nusr-Et. As a professional chef working in New Yokr City, Gokce is usually in the kitchen, away from the public eye. There are plenty of celebrity chefs out there, but Gokce went a very non-traditional route to fame and success. He first appeared on the Internet in 2017 with videos and photos of him stylishly cutting and putting salt onto his steak. Images of the so-called “SaltBae” circulated as a meme online, and people wanted to know who this sexy chef actually was. It helped to push his restaurant to become a huge success. In 2018, he had nearly 19 million followers in Instagram, and he announced that he would open up a second restaurant in New York. His second restaurant a burger place called “SaltBae”, which is incredibly appropriate.
8. Susan Boyle
In 2009, Susan Boyle appeared on a TV show called “Britain’s Got Talent”. No one expected must of her, because she was a plain-looking woman. Susan Boyle was told that she had brain damage all her life. It turns out that she actually had Asperger’s Syndrome, and she was finally able to receive treatment. During an interview, Boyle said that her mother always encouraged her to go for her dreams, but it took until she was in her 40’s to actually go for it. Boyle sang “I Dreamed a Dream” from Les Miserables. Everyone was blown away by her amazing voice, and she received a standing ovation. She came out with multiple albums over the next few years, which flew to the top of the charts. For a while, though, no one had seen Susan Boyle in the spotlight, but in 2019, she is making a comeback by appearing on America’s Got Talent again.
7. Jeremy Meeks
For the first time in history, a mugshot made someone famous. In 2014, a police officer in California posted the mug shot of a Crips gang member, calling him a “handsome felon”. That photo went viral online. Modeling agencies jumped at the chance to work with Meeks after his release from prison in 2018. By 2017, he was walking down the runway in New York Fashion Week, and he got rave reviews for his “buff bad boy” look. He became friends with celebrities like Paris Hilton, and continued to model, leaving his life of crime behind him. Unfortunately, though, there was a dark side to Jeremy Meeks’ overnight fame. After he became famous, he became estranged from his wife, Melissa Meeks, because he was constantly traveling for work. He fell in love with a rich heiress named Chloe Green. He had to get a divorce, and pay child support to Melissa and her kids.
6. Stephenie Meyer
Stephenie Meyer, was a stay-at-home-mom before she started writing about vampires. She had majored in English when she went to college, but she never had any aspiration to become a writer. According to her, she randomly had a dream about a human girl and a sparkly vampire talking to each other in a meadow. When she woke up the next morning, she began writing down her dream. The next night, she thought of how she could continue the story, and kept going until she had enough to publish in a book. This book became the New York Bestseller, Twilight. She never thought she would have become a bestselling author. According to TheRichest, she has an net worth of $125 million.
5. Rebecca Black
Everyone probably remembers the viral music video “Friday” by Rebecca Black. Rebecca spent her whole life taking piano lessons, dancing, and singing. She was only 13 years old in 2011. Her parents paid for her and her friends to have her own music video of a song called “Friday” as a Christmas gift. It premiered online, and it got over 100 million views in the first three months. Rebecca Black suddenly became famous overnight for being bad at singing. She started receiving death threats, which was obviously traumatizing for a 13-year old. After all of this, she almost gave up on singing, but she continued to receive vocal training as she finished her education. Many members of the YouTube community also reached out to her, and she found a lot of support. In 2018, she appeared on a TV show called The Four, and redeemed herself by showing the world that she really can sing. Rebecca Black continues to make music and upload her content to YouTube.
4. Daniel Radcliffe
The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling was so incredibly popular, that it was obvious to everyone that there would be at least seven books. The production team was under a lot of pressure to make sure that they chose the right kids for the job. The stars needed to stay with the gig for years, too. It was a challenge to find an actor who was willing to devote their life to becoming Harry Potter. According to a Huffington Post interview with the casting director, Janet Hirshenson, they were very serious about only casting British actors. You don’t exactly see a ton of child stars around England, so all of the kids were unknown to the rest of the world up until that point. She went through hundreds of options, and she discovered Daniel Radcliffe. He had acted in a few plays, and he got a role in the BBC TV series “David Copperfield”. Hirschenson wanted to meet him, but Daniel actually wanted to quit acting, so he had not done any other work since then. The casting director actually ran into Daniel Radcliffe’s dad, and try to convince him to come in for the audition to play Harry Potter. After eliminating hundreds of options, Daniel Radcliffe ended up winning in the end, because of his personality. As soon as the movie premiered, everyone knew who Daniel Radcliffe was, and he became rich and famous practically overnight.
3. Dr. Mike
Mikhail, Varshavski was born in Russia when it was still considered the Soviet Union. His father was a doctor, and his mother was a mathematician, but they wanted to move to America to have a better life for their son. When they first move to Brooklyn, his mother had to find work sweeping floors, since her credentials did not transfer over. Mikhail worked hard and became a doctor in Summit, NJ. He was nicknamed “Dr. Mike”, and in 2012, he started documenting his life as a doctor on Instagram. Since he was so good-looking, he got the attention of tons of people, and he began to get a following. People Magazine called him “The Sexiest Doctor Alive”, and after that, he became famous overnight. Not only was he good looking, but he is also great at public speaking. So he was able to leverage that attention and launch a career.
2. Jenna Mourey
In 2010, Jenna Mourey was 24 years old living in Boston. She had recently graduated with her Master’s Degree in Psychology. Jenna was working at a bar as a go-go dancer while she looked for a full-time job as a sports therapist. Jenna has both beauty and brains, and she loved to make her friends laugh. She filmed a video called “How to trick people into thinking you’re good-looking”, and posted it to a YouTube channel. It was so funny, that people began to share the video, and it became a viral sensation. After the video went viral, she had to change the account to “Jenna Marbles”. By using her real name, it was negatively affecting her “real” job search. Despite the fact that she wanted to be a therapist, Jenna could see the potential. She suddenly had this newfound popularity, and she did not want to let this slip away into a fleeting 15 minutes of fame. Jenna continued making funny videos, and quickly rose to being one of YouTube’s biggest stars. Jenna Marbles has 18 million subscribers, and she is considered to be a professional comedian on-level with many of the other stars out there.
1. Justin Bieber
Justin Bieber is one of the most famous musicians in the world, but his life was not always so glamorous. Now, Bieber has a net worth of $265 million, and it all happened practically overnight. Bieber was born and raised in Canada into a very normal family without any connections to the music industry. His mother noticed that Justin had a natural talent for singing and playing the drums. His mom began entering him in local talent competitions. Those contests helped build his confidence with singing in front of an audience. In 2008, Bieber’s mom decided to film a video of Justin singing a cover of Chris Brown’s song “With You”. They uploaded the video to YouTube, and people were blown away that a 13-year-old boy could sing like that. It is clear that he had a natural talent, and an incredible amount of confidence as a young age. He became one of of the highest rated music channels on YouTube. Today, that video has nearly 56 million views. This video caught the attention of the musician Usher, who helped launch his music career. The rest, as they say, is history. He went from teen heartthrob to having his songs regularly appear in the top music charts every month.