Being Mocked And Making Money: 5 Thriving YouTube Videos

Just as I can hardly remember my life before the Internet, I can hardly remember the Internet before YouTube. How were we ever satisfied with America’s Funniest Home Videos? But even though we love to crack up at the poor saps who walk into glass doors or fall off tables in the middle of dance routines, the laugh’s really on us: more and more YouTubers are making a killing off exposure from the site, it seems. Here are five Internet sensations who managed to parlay being mocked on YouTube into quantitatively measurable success.

1. William Hung: The O.G.

William Hung set our laughingstock-to-riches expectations pretty high, even though he preceded YouTube. In 2004, Hung performed–and ostensibly humiliated himself–in front of the American Idol judges with a rendition of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs.” Of course, the jerk that is Simon Cowell tried to shut him down with a series of cruel comments. But Hung replied, rather admirably, “I already gave my best, and I have no regrets at all.”

He quickly gained a cult following among the millions of us who love an underdog. Hung went on to sign a $25,000 record deal with Koch Records, home to Sinead O’Connor, KRS-One and Brian McKnight. His first album, Inspiration, sold 240,000 copies and peaked at No. 34 on the Billboard charts. Hung released two other records, including a Christmas album. For real. This for a man who didn’t make it past the first round of American Idol.

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