Bernie Sanders raises $1.8 million for charity with inauguration meme-inspired merchandise
Posted January 27, 2021 10:13 p.m. EST
CNN — Sen. Bernie Sanders has raised $1.8 million for charity through the sale of merchandise inspired by the viral photo of him and his mittens on Inauguration Day.
The Vermont senator's team began selling sweatshirts and T-shirts featuring the photo, which inspired countless memes, on his campaign store last Thursday.
The $45 black crewneck sweatshirt seems to be as popular as the meme -- the first run of the product sold out in under 30 minutes on Thursday night, according to a news release from Sanders' office.
"More items were added over the weekend, and sold out by Monday morning," the news release said.
All the money raised will be distributed to several charities in his home state of Vermont, according to the release.
"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 the statement.
"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."
The charities Sanders picked to benefit from the merchandise sales include: Area Agencies on Aging to fund Meals on Wheels throughout Vermont, Vermont Community Action Agencies, Feeding Chittenden, Vermont Parent Child Network, The Chill Foundation, Senior Centers in Vermont through the Area Agencies and Bistate Primary Care for dental care improvements in Vermont.
Age Well, the largest provider of Meals on Wheels in Vermont, said on Twitter that it is "BLOWN AWAY by the support for our Meals on Wheels program" from the sweatshirt sales.
"On behalf of all of the area agencies on aging and our partners in the community who help us provide meal services, this is a tremendous gift and we couldn't be more grateful," Age Well CEO Jane Catton told CNN affiliate WCAX.
Sanders isn't the only one using the viral moment as a chance to raise money for charities.
As part of the licensing agreement to put the famous photo on T-shirts, sweatshirts and stickers, Getty Images will donate its proceeds from the license to Meals on Wheels America, according to the news release.
Burton Snowboards, which makes the coat Sanders wore on Inauguration Day, donated 50 jackets to the Burlington Department for Children and Families in the senator's name.
Inspired by Sanders' donations, a Texas woman, Tobey King, auctioned off a handmade crochet doll of Sanders and raised over $40,000 for Meals of Wheels America.
"Senator Sanders has long been one of Meals on Wheels' biggest advocates," Jenny Young, vice president of communications for Meals on Wheels America, told CNN before the auction ended, "and it's incredible to see how his unexpected moment in the spotlight is inspiring others to join the fight to address senior hunger and isolation, as well."