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So that photo of ‘Justin Bieber’ eating a burrito wrong was a YouTube prank

Justin Bieber attends the John Elliott front row during New York Fashion Week: The Shows last month in New York City. (Theo Wargo/Getty Images for NYFW :The Shows)

Oh my god, you guys, did you see that photo of Justin Bieber eating a burrito from the middle like a maniac!? Did you get mad about it? If so, congratulations: You fell for a prank by a bunch of YouTubers.

For reference, here is the photo, lovingly cradled in a viral tweet:

With this photo, the world was united in the satisfaction that they, at least, knew how to eat a burrito correctly (from the end, silly), and were therefore better than the pop superstar. But the joke’s on everyone else.

In the video, Yes Theory explains that the “Bieber” seen here is actually Brad Sousa, a Bieber look-alike.

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A post shared by Brad Sousa (@bradsousaa) on

Once Sousa was acquired, it was just a matter of staging the right, infuriating photo, and dressing him just grungily enough to resemble a modern-day Bieber.

“To get this thing to go viral, we have to have people in the news think it’s real, because those are the people who are gonna spread it,” Yes Theory member Thomas Brag says in the video.

They did.

The photo was widely covered by news outlets, with varying degrees of skepticism, including here at The Washington Post. As the photo emerged on Reddit’s Mildly Infuriating subreddit, one user, rbeccaash, said there was no way the burrito offender was the real Bieber. On Sunday, as the news of the prank spread, rbeccaash weighed in: “It feels good to be me. Thank you.”

This prank worked in part because Yes Theory picked the right thing to have fake-Bieber do: a food crime. “We were trying to think of something that would offend the Internet,” Brag said. And food crimes — putting milk in a bowl before the cereal, for example, or having the wrong opinion over whether a hot dog is a sandwich — tend to do that pretty well.

In the video, Yes Theory shows themselves setting up and taking the infamous photo, and then seeding it to as many blogs and social media sites as possible. But once they put it on r/mildlyinfuriating, they struck gold. It quickly climbed to the top of the message board.

Soon, news outlets like Vanity Fair started reaching out to the Yes Theory participant who posted the photo to Reddit. E! News posted the photo to their Instagram, and the unstoppable cycle of aggregation, takes and reposts began. The photo turned into morning-show fodder. As the interview requests came in, the prankster who posted the image came up with a story to tell the news about where the photo came from. Later in the video, Yes Theory shows the interview they gave to “Access Hollywood.”

Anyway, everything’s going great online, have a nice day.