The real Gary Lee has finally recovered his wallet but there is an interesting story behind the lost-and-found journey of Lee's possession.
Who is Gary Lee? Why is he famous? How did he become a viral meme on the internet?
Well, in order to answer all these questions, we have to go back to where it all started. It all began when the infamous Gary Lee lost his wallet. It was just another Thursday at Rockaway Beach in Queens, New York, when Lee misplaced his wallet and his driver’s license.
However, he was lucky that a woman found it and posted a short video on TikTok searching for the real Gary Lee in order to hand over his belongings safely. The video surprisingly went viral and garnered over 30 million views within three days of posting. A slew of hilarious comments from ‘Gary Lee’ imposters made the man famous.
The popularity of the video quickly gave birth to a new internet meme trend. People popped up in the comment section of the original TikTok video by using Gary’s picture from his driver’s license as their profile pictures and claimed to be the real Gary Lee. The meme craze went viral enough to make “Who is Gary Lee?” one of the top search queries on the internet according to Google Trends.
According to Insider, the actual Gary Lee is a 33-year-old man from Brooklyn who works in sales. "It spread so fast. Every other comment was a fake account. I found it funny that all these people pretended to be me," Lee told the news outlet over a text message. The lost wallet was discovered by the friend of 22-year-old TikTok user @senasoup and the viral video she posted read: "Gary Lee please DM me, I found your wallet."
"A whole bunch of us were at the beach and my friend Jimmy found the wallet on the boardwalk and told me about it," shared @senasoup, who preferred to withhold her full name. "He wanted to make sure Gary got his wallet back and as soon as I heard that I said let's make a TikTok."
A flurry of absurd comments pooled into the comment section of the video where people pretended to be related to Lee and even his pet dog and bird. In one of the most popular comments, TikTok user @garry.lees.dog wrote: "Woof I'm his dog I'll give it to him woof.”
Thankfully, @senasoup was able to connect with the real man behind the internet mayhem as Lee opened a TikTok account with the username @therealgarylee5. Both of them decided to meet up in Manhattan's East Village so Lee can get his belongings back. @senasoup posted a follow-up video on TikTok where she can be seen handing over the wallet to the real Gary Lee.
#garyLee #blessedDay #gary #blessedDayWeAre— Best Of TikTok (@tiktok_best_of) January 23, 2023
Follow me for more of the best #tiktok videos hourly pic.twitter.com/wBbCgS2spY
"Yo thank you, man, I appreciate it," Lee said in the video and fist-bumps the person behind the camera. Lee told the news outlet that he thought the whole situation was funny and that he was lucky and grateful to find his wallet back with all its contents intact.