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Have You Seen the World’s Most Famous Egg?

Random, mysterious Instagram post breaks Kylie Jenner’s record for likes—and bad puns

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A post shared by EGG GANG 🌍 (@world_record_egg) on

It’s the egg that refuses to be eggnored. And it’s one of those cheesy stories that somebody randomly hatched and might leave your brain, well, scrambled.

Bad puns aside, surely you have seen this egg by now. In less than a week on Instagram, it got more than 46 million “likes” and talk show hosts and mainstream news sites have all covered it. This simple photo of a brown egg is what smashed social media maven Kylie Jenner’s Instagram record of 18 million for the most-liked post ever.

A sudden global sensation, the egg’s creator, an anonymous Londoner who goes by (of course) Eugene Egg, was sought after by news organizations worldwide.

If this cracks you up, you’re not alone.

“It’s pretty funny,” says Doug Gould, a College of Communication professor of the practice, advertising. “It just takes off lightning fast and no one really knows why.” Or who’s behind it. According to London’s Daily Telegraph, Eugene Egg claims he conceived of the stunt on an alcohol-free Friday night in early January just to see if he could topple Jenner’s Instagram record for her baby’s birth announcement, which stole the top Instagram spot from Beyoncé’s baby announcement nearly a year ago.

“I thought it would be an interesting experiment to try and beat the record with something as basic as possible,” he told the Telegraph. Just nine days later, the post had 13 million likes, according to a story in BuzzFeed. Commenters from around the world continue to lend cheers of support, serving up countless eggstraordinarily bad puns.

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A post shared by Kylie (@kyliejenner) on

Clearly people are having fun with the egg story, says Michelle Amazeen, a COM assistant professor of mass communication, advertising, and public relations, who studies media and manipulation. But Amazeen says in some ways, the egg invites deeper scrutiny, noting how easily it was able to capture and divert the public’s attention. Suddenly people were distracted from alleged presidential transgressions in the United States or the UK’s Brexit mess, she says, and instead were debating the meaning and prominence of an ordinary egg.

“Sure, it seems innocuous,” she says. “I would start asking questions. Where is the egg from? What’s the source? People are going on and on and on about how much it’s shared. These could all be automated bots.”

Gould says the egg will probably invite copycat efforts by marketers. And he compared it to a turnip on Twitter (@turnip2020) that trolls the president and has 122,000 Twitter followers. No one knows the person behind that account either.

“We don’t know if there’s money behind it,” he says of the egg post. “Did this just happen completely organically? It’s possible that it did. How many marketing organizations are going to want the same sort of exposure?”

Yet predicting, or gambling on, a social media platform in an effort to get a product or idea to go viral isn’t easy for even the most seasoned or well-funded marketers, says Jacob Groshek, a COM associate professor of emerging media studies, because the mathematical algorithms that guide how and when content may be seen are unknown.

Groshek says there’s a growing tendency among platforms, including Instagram, which is owned by Facebook, to promote rare, obscure, or outlandish content to draw a bigger audience. Think of the stories that make false claims, like how one glass of red wine is the equivalent of an hour at the gym, that win attention.

Or an egg.

“I think it speaks to the current era,” he says. “This demonstrates the dependence we have on algorithms we don’t fully comprehend or have a lot of control over.”

The egg’s creator, whoever he or they are, now sells “official” “I liked the egg” and “Egg gang” T-shirts, capitalizing on the egg’s fleeting fame. Groshek says that the egg could ultimately give Kylie Jenner a boost too. As if she needs it.

“I certainly don’t think she comes out a loser in any way in this,” he says. “I wouldn’t be surprised if she comes out with more followers and ‘likes’ than before.”

Even if her most-liked perch has been poached.

Megan Woolhouse can be reached at megwj@bu.edu.

2 Comments

2 Comments on Have You Seen the World’s Most Famous Egg?

  • LarryO on 01.18.2019 at 2:28 pm

    I was happy to put a “like” on the egg. That egg is much more interesting than the entire famous-for-being-famous “K/J” family.

    • Eggcellent on 01.19.2019 at 1:27 pm

      Totally in agreement! It’s incredible that people without any tangible talent/skills are treated like royalty in this day and age

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