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15 People Who Were Almost Famous in 2014

Dec 18, 2014

The heroes, villains and phenomena that rose, briefly, to the top

Alex From Target

https://twitter.com/LukeSiperly/status/529109828644257796

The Internet is constantly improving efficiency. In the past, tween girls had to discover their burgeoning sexuality by having a crush on some nonthreatening, mop-headed, baby-faced singer or actor even though they didn't care about singing or acting. Now they have Alex Lee, a nonthreatening, mop-headed, baby-faced checkout kid in Texas that some girl took a photo of and posted on Twitter. A day later, he had 300,000 followers, a spot on CNN and a bunch of old people confused.

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Toru Hanai—Reuters

"Human" Hello Kitty

The name Hello Kitty may sound absurd, but it definitely implies cat. At least it did until the Internet uncovered the Japanese icon's official bio, which says her real identity is Kitty White, a "little girl" who lives in London, loves apple pie and has her own pet cat, Charmmy Kitty. That revelation caused a virtual pussy riot, forcing maker Sanrio to issue a statement clarifying that Hello Kitty is anthropomorphized--like Mickey Mouse, or a girl dressed up like a cat. Which makes sense in Japan.

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Bob Costas' Eyes

For decades, viewers of the Olympics have looked into Costas' eyes and seen warmth, excitement and the spirit of the Games. But in Sochi, they saw the pus-crusted, cerise-rotted soul of Mephistopheles. To Costas' credit, he tried to hide his pinkeye infection with glasses. But that didn't stop his gaze from forcing us to confront the demise of our corporeal shells. He was replaced by Matt Lauer, whose hairline did the same thing.

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Hot Mug-Shot Guy

At some point, young ladies mature from fantasizing about nonthreatening checkout boys to parolees who were arrested for gun possession. The mug shot of Jeremy Meeks, whose piercing blue eyes, high cheekbones and teardrop tattoo--which means he's gosh-awfully sorry--made women swoon and guys in the friend zone even more pissed off.

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Jesse Helt

After winning MTV's Video of the Year, Miley Cyrus brilliantly decided not to make a speech about the artistry of licking mallets and gyrating naked on a wrecking ball. Instead, she sent to the stage her superhandsome date: Helt, a homeless teen who asked people to donate to a Hollywood shelter. Then Oregon police saw him, realized he was violating probation and gave him six months in prison. During which, ironically, he will spend his entire time telling fellow inmates what Miley Cyrus looks like.

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Jonathan Alcorn—Reuters

V. Stiviano

L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling's part-Latino, part-black model mistress secretly audiotaped his racist rants, forcing him to sell the Clippers to Steve Ballmer and forcing her to wear visors so big, it made one wonder if Sterling had a Jennifer Beals fetish.

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California Chrome

After winning the Kentucky Derby by a lot and then winning another race that wasn't in Kentucky by a lot, California Chrome was expected to win yet another race that wasn't in Kentucky, something no horse had done since Twitter was invented. He lost.

Smarf

At 4 a.m. on Oct. 28, Adult Swim aired a surrealistic nightmare. The 11-minute short Too Many Cooks--which immediately went viral--is an elongated, cheesy 1980s sitcom opener that morphs into a slasher flick whose breakout star is a puppet that looks like an Alf knockoff that someone bought at a Tijuana flea market and then left in a Tijuana dryer too long. Smarf celebrates, Smarf kills, Smarf dies. And Smarf definitely entered a lot of stoners' algebra-class doodles.

Peter Nyong'o

When Academy Awards host Ellen DeGeneres took the most tweeted group selfie in the long history of tweeted group selfies, she arranged a tableau of Meryl Streep, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Bradley Cooper, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Lupita Nyong'o--and Nyong'o's 20-year-old brother Peter, who hopped in at the last minute to photo-bomb everyone. He blocked most of Angelina's face, which only proves that he is wider than a pencil.

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Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno—Getty Images

Luis Suárez

Prior to the World Cup, Uruguay, which fielded one of the top teams, hoped its star player would do two things: score goals and not bite people. Alas, Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini, with his smooth shoulder skin the color of just-laid brown eggs, proved too irresistible for the Mike Tyson of soccer.

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Flappy Bird

Feeling that Angry Birds was way too complicated, Vietnamese video-game developer Nguyen Ha Dong created an alternative version, in which players tap to fly up as they avoid pipes. But once the game hit 50 million downloads and started earning more than $50,000 a day, Dong--who possibly read Infinite Jest or just saw The Ring--decided he did not want people developing a screen addiction and removed it from major app stores. This fixed everything in the world.

The Singing Nun

During 26-year-old Sister Cristina Scuccia's audition for Italy's version of The Voice, the judges were shocked to see a millennial with a habit other than constantly Instagramming herself. Scuccia quickly converted her skeptics, though, and went on to win the whole season, belting out hits like "Girls Just Want to Have Fun" and "Livin' on a Prayer." Her first single was a cover of "Like a Virgin." This new Pope really does allow anything.

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Metin Pala—Anadolu Agency—Getty Images

Thomas Piketty

The English translation of the liberal French economist's 685-page proof of the Kuznets curve (when r > g, there's trouble, dude) became No. 1 on the New York Times' nonfiction best-seller list and caused rich liberals to be even more boring at dinner parties.

"Apparently" Kid

Armed with the looks of the kid a family sitcom desperately hires in its fifth season after all the original child actors have lost their cuteness through puberty, 5-year-old Noah Ritter used a local TV-news interview at a county fair to abuse both the word apparently and America's heart. Predictably, Ellen DeGeneres made him a part-time reporter.

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Charlo Greene

After her report on a medical-marijuana club in Anchorage, the local TV reporter revealed that she was actually the owner, ending her report with "F-ck it, I quit." There is a fair chance that Noah Ritter will eventually end his Ellen gig the same way.

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