Shane Missler won a $451 million Mega Millions jackpot, and tens of thousands of people want to believe that he’s giving away his money to strangers on Twitter.
To be clear: Missler is not giving away the bulk of his winnings in a Twitter contest. Come on. But a pair of nearly identical tweets pretending to be from Missler, claiming that he was giving away “$5,000 to the first 50k followers that retweet and like this post,” have both gone viral.
Missler, who is 20 and lives in Florida, has said that he hopes to use a portion of the money to do “some good for humanity,” which seems to be why some people believe these obviously fake giveaways are plausible. A screenshot of that headline is even attached to each of these fake tweets, as if to provide proof that the tweet must be real.
Again, it is not. This is not what Missler meant by “good for humanity.”
One viral tweet, from an account that was created this month and has exactly five tweets — i.e. incredibly suspicious if you’ve ever spent time trying to verify viral social media posts — had 75,000 retweets as of Monday afternoon.
At this point, the horde of fake accounts that try to gain likes and retweets under the name of the newly famous is a routine part of the news cycle. There’s little that is unusual about what happened to Missler’s name in the past 24 hours, which just adds another layer of despair to it all.
As a few of those fake accounts succeeded in going viral, others have sprung up to try to ride the wave while it lasts.
And look at these less-viral versions of the initial tweet:
Missler’s attorney, Walt Blenner, said in an email to The Washington Post on Tuesday that he and Missler were “aware” of the fake profiles. And he confirmed that Missler does have an actual social media presence, one that isn’t giving away thousands of dollars to strangers in a ploy to get Twitter likes.
This is a real tweet from Missler, who now has about 12,000 followers on Twitter.
Meanwhile, one of the fake accounts pretending to be him has 42,000 followers, making it more popular on the platform than the actual guy who won the lottery.