- A photo of Sen. Bernie Sanders wearing a parka and hand-knit mittens to the inauguration went viral.
- The senator quickly began selling merchandise that featured the image.
- Sanders said the merchandise raised $1.8 million for charity in just five days.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Bernie Sanders used a viral image of himself at the inauguration to raise nearly $2 million for charity, but said: “even this amount of money is no substitute for action by Congress.”
The 79-year-old independent from Vermont said merchandise featuring the image has raised $1.8 million for the hunger charity Meals on Wheels Vermont in just five days, according to the Associated Press.
The image shows Sanders sitting with his arms and legs crossed while wearing a parka and a pair of woolly mittens. It was quickly turned into a meme, with people online sharing photoshopped images of the senator in all sorts of situations.
The next day, the senator began selling merchandise that featured the image, such as a black crewneck sweatshirt that appeared for sale on his campaign web store and quickly sold out before being restocked.
All the merchandise featuring the image is currently sold out on Sanders’s website.
“Jane and I were amazed by all the creativity shown by so many people over the last week, and we’re glad we can use my internet fame to help Vermonters in need,” Sanders said in a statement, the AP reported.
“But even this amount of money is no substitute for action by Congress, and I will be doing everything I can in Washington to make sure working people in Vermont and across the country get the relief they need in the middle of the worst crisis we’ve faced since the Great Depression,” he said.
In addition to Meals on Wheels, proceeds from the sales will go to other local Vermont charities.
The mittens Sanders was wearing were made by Jen Ellis, a second-grade teacher in Vermont, who has received an outpouring of attention and even says she’s received offers for business deals.
The photo of Sanders was captured by Getty Images photographer Brendan Smialowski. Getty said it will donate proceeds from the image to Meals on Wheels America, AP reported.