The story of Meagan McCullough underlines how social media and the internet can propel a person to celebrity status in the quaintest and unexpected of ways and through fortuitous circumstances. (Remember what happened to Jeremy Meeks, the criminal turned supermodel?)
A DUI teary-eyed mug shot of Meagan McCullough in an orange jumpsuit, intentionally or otherwise, found its way to the internet and from there it spread like raging prairie fire, propelling her to fame. She received proposals, declarations of love and more. Let us trace her path to fame.
The Year Is 2010 and Megan Parties
At that time, Meagan was pretty young, around 27 or so and married, living in Zephyrhills, Florida. One evening she decided to party with her girlfriend in Tampa and had one too many. She said she had no plans to drive.
Fate had other things in store. The friend decided to see her boyfriend and Meagan had to drive home in an inebriated condition. What happened next laid the foundation stone for her future celebrity status.
The Police Pull Meagan Over and Take Her to the Station
On the fateful evening of July 25th, 2010, the police pulled her over and took her to the police station where she had to submit to the standard procedures. One of which was the taking of her mug shot. Little did she know just how that mug shot would surface a couple of years later.
Meagan was crying, shocked that she was in a police station and now a criminal. However, she composed herself just enough for that fateful mug shot. Her parents were upset, perhaps more than she was.
Mug Shot Uploaded to the Arrest Record Database
The authorities uploaded her mug shot to the arrest record database, Arrests.org, which is pretty routine stuff. But two years later, on August 9th, 2012, her mug shot was included in a compilation of attractive women on The Chive, a blog of interest to men.
Somehow, the images found their way to the Japanese news website Daily News Agency on August 13th, and then on the 16th of the same month. A “sexy mugshots” gallery containing her mug shot made its way to /r/pics/subreddit. Her picture also found its way to the imageboard 2chan on 26th August.
Meagan’s Mug Shot on Reddit Goes Viral
That would have been that and that’s all, until a Redditor “Vestra” decided to make a meme of McCullough’s mug shot on April 23rd 2013. He added the caption “Wanted/In 50 States” and uploaded the image to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit.
That is what sparked the fire. In just 48 hours, his post received 8800 upvotes and 550 comments. More was to follow as you can surely imagine. The photo went super viral in no time.
Redditors Fan the Flames of Meagan’s Popularity
By this time, Meagan had gained the title of the “Attractive Convict.” Since April 2013, the quick meme page has had more than 280 instances. Redditor quirrelbo1 was captivated enough to add his own stuff to the mug shot…
He captioned it “Can I have her cell number” and post it to the /r/AdviceAnimals subreddit. He labeled her “Attractive Convict” and it stuck. His post received 18,000 up votes and 700 comments.
More Redditors Reactions Cause More Attention
Redditor Skepstar, on April 3rd, 2013, posted the same photo with the caption “I guess it’s true/ looks do kill” to the same subreddit, which got him 5900 up votes and 175 comments.
The next day, Buzzfeed published a compilation of examples of her meme series. The reactions were quick to come in. Some commented, some shared, some liked, and some created their own additional subreddits.
Meagan’s Identity is Revealed
In the early stages, people were unaware of her identity, and some searched frantically to find out who she was. Was she a star, a model or what? That buzz led people to make efforts to find out who this woman with the striking face was.
That was when someone found out who she really was. As it turns out, she was a mother of four kids — two boys and two girls — working as a medical assistant in Florida and separated from her husband – a fact that pleased many of her admirers.
The Daily Mail Calls Meagan for an Interview
Meanwhile, Meagan McCullough, blissfully unaware of all the storm her mug shot was creating across cyberspace, carried on with her routine life. She was with her best friend and their children were playing while the mothers gossiped. It was a routine day, a day just like any other.
But then the UK Daily Mail called her wanting to do an interview on her mug shot that had gone viral in such a short time. She really had no idea that such a call was coming. It was totally out of the blue, she later said.
Meagan’s Modest Reaction to the “Fame”
Meagan was shocked, to say the least. She had no idea of how the past would come back to haunt her again. Maybe in a positive way, considering how you look at it. Certainly, many people would have profited from their fame on social media.
But this was not her style. She really just wanted to get on with her life and forget that fateful night many years ago when she did one stupid (but OK, dangerous) thing. Certainly, nobody wants to launch their modeling career from a mug shot!
Meagan Does Not Understand Why That Mug Shot Went So Viral
For Meagan, all the fame was unexpected, and in some ways, somewhat unpleasant too. It was not a good photograph, she claimed. When they took her photo she was least worried about how she looked and was more concerned about the fallout.
More importantly, that image brought back memories of that horrendous evening; memories she would rather not have because they were so scarring.
She Says It Is Not Good Enough; Fans Disagree
Meagan did not consider that mug shot of her in an orange prison jumpsuit as something good. She would have preferred other images to go viral or be liked by people on social media.
Fans disagreed. One even went as far as to say, “I would go to the ends of the earth just to make you happy.” Others claimed to have fallen in love with her simply due to that infamous mug shot photo. As they say, beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. And Meagan had many beholders!
Not Everything was Positive
Meagan’s photo garnered many likes and admirers paid her compliments. Meagan remained unfazed throughout it all. However, with the good comes also comes the bad, especially when yours is a viral image on the internet. People living in glass houses…etc.
Meagan became particularly concerned about the lack of privacy. Some fans talked about visiting her. Some were even more forthright and said unpleasant things which forced her to block them from her account. She had four kids to worry about. A past that was supposedly dead and buried was now resurrected. What effect would that have on her kids?
Mug Shot Placed Side By Side With That of a Convicted Felon
It became particularly unsettling and distressing for her when a new mug shot combo started to go viral. It showed her mug shot side by side with that of Jeremy Meeks, a convicted felon and gang member.
On the basis of the mug shot, Jeremy Meeks went on to gain fame and eventually became a supermodel, acquiring the moniker “Hot Felon” in the process. Meagan was not pleased. She was embarrassed to be paired up with a convicted felon. By implication, people would infer that she was in the same category and would imagine her to be a criminal, not an ordinary member of the society who had the bad luck to be arrested for DUI.
Men Obsess Over Meagan’s Mug Shot
Meagan’s mug shot created waves across the internet, spawning a number of memes showing just how obsessed some men were with her face. Was it the look in her eyes? Was it her hair style? Was it her nose? It is hard to say. But the overall effect is telling.
One guy posted: “I guess it’s true / Looks do kill” and then another commented, “The eyes of the sky. And hair like woven Silk. I have taken photos of thousands of woman and never seen one with what you have in those eyes breathtaking you are.”
Meagan Gets Invited to Ireland
Some posts and comments border on the bizarre, such as the one from a guy who asks her to move to Ireland, inferring that she was of Irish lineage based on her surname McCullough.
That admirer invited her to Ireland and promised to put her up, get her work in a friend’s pub while she settled down. He offered to assist her with looking up her family history. Another one said that in they treat people differently, not with the same prejudiced approach that prevails in the .
Meagan Reverts to Her Maiden Name, Simmons
The irony is that McCullough was her married name. She was by no means of Irish descent. She is American, but her married name led people to get the idea that she had Irish blood coursing in her veins.
The only Irish member of her family was her husband….and she has divorced him! After her divorces, she took up her maiden name, Simmons. Meagan claims she is romantically inclined and optimistic about her future – provided she meets the right guy.
She’s a True Romantic
The world is not an ideal place. Meagan was free and single again; a fact that many men liked. Some creeps and weirdos even went on to propose to her once they got to know of the fact through social media.
She calls herself a hopeless romantic and is looking for Mr. Right. However, she has not found him since she is picky and must think of her four kids too. Men find her attractive, but it is disappointing for her that they do not want to be in a relationship. Short-term dating and romance have no appeal for her.
Instant Checkmate (Mis)Uses Her Mugshot and Gets Sued
Being a celebrity has its costs, as Meagan was to find out. A good, popular face sells, right? That is what Instant Checkmate thought when they used her mugshot in their ads, all without the permission of Meagan, in the year 2014.
Meagan did not mind people using her mug shot on social media sites. However, when it was used by a company to sell and generate profits, it was another story altogether. Megan roped in her attorney, Matthew Crist, sued Instant Checkmate and, ultimately, won a settlement with an injunction against further use.
Using the Settlement Money to Help her Kids
The money proved to be helpful to her. She was able to take her children on a vacation to Disney World, something that would have been difficult to do with her salary. The payout also helped her take care of education costs and daily expenses.
She was one of the millions of parents who were struggling and getting ahead, despite the odds. Who would have thought that a stupid mistake of drunk driving would be the reason her children went on a trip to Disney World?
Meagan Leads a Normal Life Now, Except For the Occasional Bumps
Meagan has put behind her that sorry episode of 2010, and another previous one of 2006, which is when the police arrested her for driving while her license was revoked. To her friends and neighbors, Meagan is a normal and happy person.
She remains active on Twitter and Instagram, responding to her thousands of followers. Many did not even know that she was arrested for a DUI. Thanks to that viral mug shot, she still receives syrupy messages from men (and also vitriolic ones) but takes them all in stride.
You Can’t Stop People from Hating
Even to this day, Meagan continues to get hate comments and messages. That is to be expected given that her mug shot made her a celebrity of sorts. And there will always be people who will find something to hate and denigrate.
Meagan continues to receive all kinds of negative comments, but the ones that truly hurt her are those that make racial remarks regarding her biracial children. Some also comment negatively on the way she lives her life. This can be depressing, and it can be frightening too.
Threats that Scared Meagan
It is one thing to receive comments that cast slurs, but it is another thing when people say they know where she lives and that they will show up one day. That is not the kind of attention that people want to get on the internet.
A single mother living alone with four kids will certainly be scared to death at the prospect of hate-filled people showing up with the intention of causing harm, or publicly disgracing her. This caused Meagan serious concerns.
She Decides to Make a Move
Meagan finally decided that she’d had enough. She started planning a move to a new house, in order to give her children a fresh start. She hoped that this fresh start would be exactly what her family needed.
Megan did not disclose any of this personal information on her social media and is hoping that the move will bring some peace and privacy to her and her family. She hopes the attention will finally die down and she will be forgotten.
Meagan Is Looking Forward to the Future
Popularity has not made Meagan swell up with pride. Nor has the large number of hate posts and comments quenched her happy spirit. She has a positive outlook on life and plans for her future. As a mother of four, she is mostly just busy working and taking care of her kids.
Meagan worked hard to put the past behind her and promised to never drive under the influence. She has great plans for the future, thinking of becoming a news co-host for Channel E. The idea of interviewing celebrities for a living does appeal to her.
What Did Meagan’s Parents Think?
There were mixed reactions among her friends to her newfound popularity on the internet. Her parents were also surprised and amused by the entire story.
Her mother simply laughed it off, remarking that the photo could have looked much worse. Her father certainly did not like the situation and wished it would disappear off social media completely.
A Mug Shot is Worth a Thousand Memes
What were men saying about Meagan and her mug shot that so captivated them? One said, “Guilty / Of taking my breath away.” Maybe that is a bit over the top. Wait till you learn what someone else said: “Arrested for breaking and entering / YOUR HEART.” A third said, “Tell me what she did so I can end up in the same jail!”
If guys say things like this you can guess just how powerfully impactful her mug shot is, at least to some. Helen of Troy is said to have a face that launched a thousand ships. Meagan’s mug shot launched a thousand memes!
Look Who Made the Cut!
Maybe Meagan regained her equanimity despite the negative comments and the trauma of online persecution. Hers is not the only mug shot to have become famous, but she believes she is one up on the others.
Meagan went as far as to tweet, “Look who made the cut” when her photo was featured in an Inside Edition special about hot mug shots. The inclusion must have given her some pride.
Interview with Leading Papers and Journals
The mug shot granted her interviews with gossip columnists and various newspapers. An interview with the Daily Mail was her first step into the limelight. Even Huffington Post got into the action and interviewed her.
Some rumors were going around that, given an opportunity, she might pose for Playboy. But she never did. It goes to show that too much of publicity can be a bad thing, as she found out when InstantCheckmate.com used her mug shot for commercial purposes.
Lots of Followers on Social Media
Meagan attained near-celeb status and that gave a boost to her status on social media sites, like Instagram and Twitter. According to estimates, Meagan has about 1182 followers on Instagram.
There are also 2434 followers on Twitter. These are decent enough numbers, though nowhere near the numbers that celebrities boast about.
Meagan is not the only one with a mug shot that went viral…
Mekhi Alante Lucky Mug Shot Goes Viral
Just like Meagan, there was Mekhi Alante Lucky, who was arrested for motor vehicle larceny and for eluding arrest. Naturally, when the police arrested him, they took his mug shot and it went viral for a reason you can easily guess by looking at his photo.
Lucky suffered from a disorder known as heterochromia. One eye is blue, and the other is brown. Strangely, people ignored his prominent upper lip but focused on his eyes. It was just a matter of time before his photo was shared across social media.
Lucky Finds Luck and Becomes a Model
As luck would have it, Demanti O’Bryant, founder of the St. Claire Modelling Agency, saw that photo. He found it so interesting that he reached out to Lucky through Instagram and the rest, as they say, is history.
St. Claire signed up Lucky to be a model in 2017. He walked the New York City’s famous Fashion Week the following month. O’Bryant would photograph him and post his images on Instagram. And talking about eyes takes us to Morgan Joyce Varn and her mug shot…
Morgan Joyce Varn – “The Eyes Have It”
This is yet another instance of “the eyes have it”. Morgan Joyce Van was arrested in South Caroline in April 2017 on charges of kidnapping, armed robbery and property damage. What was striking about her mug shot was that she had tattoos all over her face, even her eyes.
On the eyes is one thing but what about tattoos inside the eyes? Yes that is right. Inside. Who would be crazy enough to do that? The whites of her eyes look pitch black. Maybe she wore contact lenses. Maybe her photo was photoshopped but wow! Black eyes!
Justin Lamar Richardson – Cool as They Come
Justin Richardson was arrested in North Carolina in September 2017 for violating his probation, so it appears he was a serial offender… and as cool as they come. This shows clearly in his mug shot.
That famous mug shot shows Justin coolly munching on a sandwich as the police grabbed a pic. Apparently, he was hungry and asked the police for food. They obliged and gave him a sandwich, photographing him while he ate. Perhaps they realized it was not quite the right type of pic, so they asked him to pose again.
Fidel Gonzalez Gutierrez – Santa Claus Arrested for Selling Snow
Fidel Gutierrez was arrested in Florida in March 2017 following six outstanding warrants related to selling cocaine, or “snow.” His photo went viral, and it is not hard to see why.
With his white moustache and long white beard, Fidel could stand in for Santa Claus. He was even wearing a red shirt. Just put a stocking cap on his head and there you have it: Santa selling snow (even if it is the wrong kind of snow). Just in case you are wondering, Fidel actually works as a fisherman.
Luciano Gutierrez – This One Should Make You Laugh
Gutierrez is another who attained fame thanks to his mug shot. There is not much more to add. Just take a look and enjoy the giggle. Luciano Gutierrez posed for the mug shot as usual but, ironically, he was wearing a black T-shirt carrying the message “Warning, I do dumb things.”
He was arrested for a DUI, the same way Meagan was. Unlike Meagan, this was the 9th time he had been arrested for the same charge. Maybe he will write a book “Getting Arrested for DUI for Dummies.” Meagan received marriage proposals, but it is not known if Gutierrez received any.
Sarah Seawright – Criminals Can Be Cute
Looking at her mug shot you would not think that an innocent and cute face like this could belong to a person with a rap sheet for robbery, kidnapping, battery and tampering with evidence. This mug shot was taken when Seawright was arrested in 2016 for a no-show court appearance related to a previous arrest.
Tumblr blog Ugly Plastic picked it up and the photo went viral, inviting tweets like “She can kidnap me any day” and “put her on house arrest with me” by people who did not know of her crimes. Compared to her, Meagan would be a babe in the woods.
Jeremy Meeks “Hot Felon” has Competition – Sean Kory
Sean Kory has killer looks as his mugshot shows. As a matter of fact, he was arrested for assault in 2014. Apparently, he assaulted a person dressed as a Fox News reporter on his way to a Halloween party.
The mug shot showed pointed cheekbones, piercing eyes, and a menacing look. The photo invited comments like, “When you get out of jail…I’ll be waiting boo.” However, unlike Meeks, Kory could not sustain his popularity and become a regular model.
215 Years of Prison and Yet She Grins From Ear To Ear – Sara Furay
Yep, that is what she faced: 215 years of prison for possessing of packaged cocaine, of marijuana, 29 ecstasy tablets, methamphetamine and 670 doses of a drug similar to LSD. And yet, she smiled when her mug shot was taken at the time of her arrest in November 2015.
Sara would look just as cute without wearing that ear-to-ear grin. However, can you imagine someone so pretty looking so happy at having her mug shot taken? That photo invited comments like “world’s cutest drug kingpin.” Surprise, surprise, Sara posted bail and was released the next day, thanks to her father who was an agent for the Drug Enforcement Administration. Maybe that was why she was grinning.
Back to Meagan
Compare that to a teary-eyed Meagan in her orange jumpsuit. She was looking sad, forlorn and frightened. Yet she managed to stir a lot of emotion and desire.
Who knows why her image, out of all the thousands of images of mugshots, drew so much attention? Would your mugshot be that attractive? It is something that no of us really want to find out.