The iconic ‘Leave Britney Alone’ YouTube video by Chris Crocker sold as an NFT for over $41,000

Chris Crocker
Chris Crocker in the ‘Leave Britney Alone’ video. madringking1119/YouTube
  • Chris Crocker, the creator of the iconic “Leave Britney Alone” viral video, sold it as an NFT.
  • The auction ended Monday night, and the NFT sold for 18.69 ether, or over $41,000.
  • Crocker told Insider they would use the money to care for their grandma and fund their transition.
  • See more stories on Insider’s business page.

Chris Crocker, the creator of the iconic “Leave Britney Alone” viral video, auctioned off the original 2007 footage as an NFT, or nonfungible token, a unique digital asset purchased with cryptocurrency. The bidding for the NFT ended Monday night – it sold for 18.69 ether, or over $41,000, to an anonymous buyer.

The video, in which Crocker cried and pleaded with tabloids to leave Britney Spears alone, became a cultural touchstone and early marker of how the internet would spill into the public consciousness. “Leave Britney Alone” has been credited as one of the first viral videos on YouTube.

Crocker’s sale of the famous video as an NFT followed the sales of other viral digital content, including a version of the Nyan Cat meme that sold for over $600,000 in February.

In an interview with Insider, Crocker, a content creator and online personality who is now 33, said they’d wanted to sell the content as a way to reclaim it and its significance after years of taking “hits” from the frequently parodied and mocked video.

“I felt like a lot of people might misconstrue why I wanted to sell it,” Crocker said. “But the real reason is because I felt like I took a lot of hits – you know, literal hits,” they said, adding that they had been “physically assaulted at gay clubs,” received death threats, and felt as if the gay community was “embarrassed that I was a representation for them.”

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Crocker said there was a misconception that they’d made money off the original video, as it was first posted on MySpace and gained millions of views on YouTube, where multiple versions now live. But Crocker said they never made any money off the video, which was not monetized on YouTube.

Now, as digital-media NFT sales sometimes bring in millions of dollars, Crocker felt that this was the moment to get “retroactive” payment for the video that changed their life, they said.

“I didn’t really get anything from [the video] other than to be put in a box for the next 14 years,” Crocker said, adding that they were never able to do anything authentically without being seen as attention-seeking, particularly regarding adult-entertainment work.

Crocker said they had been curious about the NFT space and spoken about it with a couple of people in a room on Clubhouse, an invite-only audio-based social-media app. Crocker said they weren’t sure how to start the process, and someone in the room suggested they reach out to Ryder Ripps, an artist who’d recently sold an audio sex tape with Azealia Banks, now his ex-girlfriend, as an NFT. Ripps helped Crocker upload their file as an NFT, Crocker said.

-Chris Crocker (@ChrisCrocker) April 12, 2021

Crocker said that the money they made from the sale would first go toward helping their grandmother. But if they end up with additional funds, “I would absolutely put that towards, like, me being able to become myself” and live openly as a woman, Crocker said.

Crocker, who told Insider they identify as transgender, said that they wanted to fully present as a woman but that because they live in a rural Southern town – Bristol, Tennessee – they don’t feel safe doing so in public until they can afford a full male-to-female transition. For now, they’re “not picky” with pronouns but mostly use “they” and “them,” Crocker said.

“And that’s why I’ve always been scared to do the baby steps very slowly, because I was like, well, if I can’t afford the full [transition], my safety is really gonna be a concern,” they said. “People are very backward, and I already stick out for being feminine. So I’ve always thought if I am going to do it and still be here and live around my family, I have to go, like, all the way.”