Justin Timberlake Halftime Selfie Kid Speaks: "I Just Went for It"
The 13-year-old says all the fumbling he did with his phone was because he had been filming a video, and the device shut off so he had to turn it back on to get his picture.
The undisputed champs of Super Bowl LII were the triumphant Philadelphia Eagles. But the hands-down winner of halftime was the teen the internet immediately dubbed "selfie kid," who somehow managed to steal some of the spotlight away from Justin Timberlake's high-energy performance by taking an endless series of snaps with the headliner.
It all seemed like a weird coincidence when JT went up into the stands for "Can't Stop the Feeling" and one overjoyed young fan looked like he was losing it trying to get a good snap with Justin. He got his wish, plus more, when Timberlake draped his arm around the kid and stopped to pose for a pic.
The teen turned into an instant meme, and of course someone found him and got his story, but not before the internet gave him his 15 seconds of fame.
A reporter from the St. Paul Pioneer Press found 13-year-old Ryan McKenna in the stands, who said when he saw the pop icon headed his way he immediately stopped filming a video and switched over to his camera app to try and get a snap with the Man of the Woods. "I just thought to myself, 'I'll never get this opportunity again in my whole life,'" he said. "I just went for it."
McKenna's dad said they realized very quickly that his son was instantly turning into an internet sensation. "My phone started blowing up," said father John McKenna. "It died, like, instantly after it happened. We had friends from all over reaching out. I couldn't believe it."
McKenna is a seventh-grader at Derby Academy in Hingham, Mass. His family flew in around noon Sunday for the game, and they planned to fly out Monday morning, after hitting up Good Morning America to talk about Ryan's magical encounter.
"It's been so crazy," Ryan said. "I don't even know what to think. All my friends have been texting me and stuff. It's insane. My phone is almost dead. I've gotten so many notifications. I've got like 36 Snapchats, like 21 DMs and like 150 follower requests on Instagram. The Press reported that as reporters swarmed his son, John McKenna couldn't believe the attention. "We had the great opportunity to come see the Super Bowl," he said. "Never in a million years did we think this would happen.
Ryan was just as blown away as the internet began referring to him as this year's scene-stealing Left Shark. "It was already crazy to be at the Super Bowl in the first place," he said. "Then all of a sudden I'm up on the Jumbotron and everyone's talking about me. I can't believe it."
Looking a bit tired Monday morning, Ryan — wearing his #12 Tom Brady Patriots T-shirt — went on the Today show to talk about his epic night. "My dad told me [Timberlake] was coming around, so I went behind the people and I jumped in there and he's kind of stopped where our row was, so I just had to jump out there with my phone and try to get a picture."
Knowing he had to get a selfie to post for his friends back home, Ryan said he really wanted to get a snap because he's a huge JT fan and "Can't Stop the Feeling" is his all-time favorite Justin jam. "I was just so excited that he was right there and playing that song," he said. Explaining all the fumbling he did, McKenna said he'd been shooting a video, but then his phone shut off, so he had to pull the phone back up to get the picture app open just in time to get his legendary selfie.
At press time he said the Instagram story had 60,000 views and he is up to 12,000 followers.
This story first appeared on Billboard.com