While in the socially-distanced audience of President Joe Biden’s inauguration event on January 20, Sanders was photographed sitting in a metal chair with his arms and legs crossed, expression hidden behind a surgical face mask. The
The image went viral almost immediately, as people used it to illustrate various jokes and photoshopped it into a variety of situations and locations, including movie and TV stills, empty buses and famous paintings.
Within the week, Sanders got in on the fun, adding a black t-shirt and sweatshirt bearing the meme image to his list of official merchandise, calling it the ‘Chairman Sanders Collection.’
Sen. Bernie Sanders turned the meme of himself at Biden’s inauguration (pictured) into a line of ‘Chairman Sanders Collection’ sweatshirts and t-shirts
The t-shirts and sweatshirts were sold on his official merchandise website for $27 to $45
The $45 crewneck sweatshirt was the first to sell out.
As of Monday, both the $27 men’s and women’s t-shirts have also sold out. As to be expected, the clothing items are made in the USA and union-printed.
According to the Sanders website, 100 per cent of the sweatshirt proceeds go toward Meals on Wheels Vermont. Meanwhile, 100 per cent of the t-shirt proceeds will go to other Vermont charities, including community actions centers, Feeding Chittenden and Chill Foundation.
On Sunday, Sanders told
The sweatshirt sold out first, but by Monday morning, the t-shirts had also sold out. Proceeds form the sales were being earmarked for various Vermont charities
Of the meme merchandise sales, Sanders said ‘all of the money that’s going to be raised, which I expect will be a couple million dollars, will be going to programs like Meals On Wheels that feed low-income senior citizens,’ meaning that the meme ‘turns out actually to be a good thing and not only a fun thing.’
‘Lol Bernie Sanders threw his meme on a sweatshirt. Charged $45 for it. Sold out immediately in all sizes. Then donated 100% of the proceeds to Meals on Wheels Vermont,’ @BigGado_ tweeted Friday, after news about the sweatshirts’ existence broke.
‘Huge shout out to @SenSanders and his team for raising much needed funds for #MealsOnWheels in Vermont! We are so grateful for the outpouring of support for the older adults we serve,’ Age Well – Vermont’s largest provider of Meals on Wheels – tweeted.
The fact that Sanders – a democratic socialist – had decided to raise money by selling the meme merchandise led to plenty of jokes about his use of capitalism.
‘Socialist uses capitalism and voluntaryism to boost Meals on Wheels program! I love the free market!’ tweeted @fisterboblives.
‘Even Bernie is learning how to do capitalism and volunteerism,’ wrote @AgnosticLiberty.
Social media had a meme field day with the Sanders image, photoshopping him into various situations, including this movie still from Forrest Gump
‘Bernie Sanders sold his meme shirt for $45 and donating 100% of proceeds to a charity. Crazy how capitalism works,’ @alxxxndr_ tweeted.
‘@BernieSanders made a Sitting Bernie meme sweater, sold them for $45 each, immediately sold out, and gave 100% of the proceeds to @_MealsOnWheels, without robbing anyone in the process. Proving once again that voluntary charity is far better than the tax-and-spend model,’ @RealSpikeCohen wrote.
‘Bernie proving capitalism is by far more effective than socialism is peak comedy,’ tweeted @KInstacart.
‘”YOU CANT BE SOCIALIST AND RAISE MONEY THROUGH CAPITALISM” Bernie: “challenge accepted”,’ joked @LiamDan008.
But not everyone was so supportive of Sanders’ decision to sell the meme clothing.
‘Bernie loves capitalism,’ @Opino32 wrote.
‘Ahhhh..45$ for a sweatshirt?! I am an average middle class citizen and thats a steep price. Especially under a pandemic when most of us are scraping by. I’m surprised #BernieSanders is ok with that price,’ wrote @Nicolebanky1.
‘I’m waiting to find out he’s fundraising off this shit. $45 for a f**king shirt, who can afford that s**t?’ wrote @SylvrewolfeP.
‘I wouldn’t have bought it for $5. I’ll donate directly,’ tweeted @greenswede82.
Sanders has not yet revealed how many t-shirts and sweatshirts have been sold or exactly when the individual charities will receive the cash or how much they can expect.