David DeVore Jr. was 7 when he became an internet celebrity from a home video. In 2008, his dad, David DeVore Sr., filmed a video of him groggily and hilariously reacting to medication from a tooth extraction that became "David After Dentist."
After it was posted to YouTube in 2009 so his family could easily share it with friends and relatives, it gained millions of views within days after strangers discovered it and passed it around. It became one of the first native videos on YouTube to go viral. The "Is this real life?" line David Jr. exclaims became iconic. The video has been licensed for over a decade. Today, it continues to generate revenue for the family.
The DeVore family is now auctioning "David After Dentist" as an NFT, basically a noninterchangeable unit of data stored on a digital ledger like a bitcoin. The starting price is set at 1 ETH, the cryptocurrency, or $3,296.95.
The father and son are working with an NFT creator program called Views — founded by Jukin Media and Night Media, a video licensing company and talent management company, respectively — to sell the unique assets of the viral video to the highest bidder. Views will take a cut of sale but would not reveal the percentage to BuzzFeed News.
David Sr. told BuzzFeed News the money they'll make from the sale will help pay for his youngest son's college tuition.
"The elephant in the room is it’s hard to ignore the dollars that are going with [selling the video]. David is in college. I got one going to college," he said. "But I just find the technology and artwork behind it fascinating. In 10 years, we’ll be blown away by what we’re able to do. Imagine if we were able to tokenize David’s video in 2009."
David Jr. is now a 20-year-old student who just finished his second year at the University of Florida, where he's pursuing a degree in computer science. He told BuzzFeed News he seldom gets recognized now because he's, well, all grown up. But when one person on campus, or at his church, discovers he is David of "David After Dentist," the news spreads quickly and he once again becomes a niche celebrity.
He said it's "pretty funny" and "not normal" to watch himself on video as a child in front of the whole world.
"There’s a part of it that’s just normal because I was 7. It was just the way it happened. I wasn’t old enough to process it," David Jr. said. "I definitely have moments where I was, like, wow, it’s not normal to have a video like that — but it goes back to being normal."
His dad said he and his wife Tessie were initially worried about the uncontrollable viral attention they received. But in hindsight, they felt lucky that people on the internet were relatively kind and "positive."
"When it happened, our first concern was not about us. My wife and I, we wanted to know if people were making fun of David," David Sr. said about the early days of going viral. "Once I realized they love David, and as long as they love David, it was a positive thing. We never felt endangered."
David Sr. said he posted the clip a year after he filmed it because at the time sharing video with his friends and family was tedious.
"Back then, Facebook was just getting going and I didn't know if you could post pictures back then, much less a video," he said.
So he uploaded the footage to YouTube, where it was easy to generate a link to send around. But then his video started getting discovered and it was featured on the site's front page.
"It was so much easier to be on the front page, and it was easier to be discovered. There wasn’t a whole lot of competition. We wouldn’t probably be talking today if ['David After Dentist'] happened today."
The DeVore family is among a growing number of early creators and accidental internet stars who are trying to turn their viral content into substantial paychecks. Last month, Chris Crocker sold their iconic "Leave Britney Alone" video as an NFT for $44,000. And Chris Torres, the creator of the Nyan Cat GIF, sold that unique piece of art as a nonfungible token for nearly $600,000.
"This NFT seems a little frivolous, but I believe it is art," David Sr. said.