Standing out in a crowd of glamorously dressed guests, Bernie Sanders showed up for the US presidential inauguration in a heavy winter jacket and patterned mittens — with an AFP photo of the veteran leftist spawning the first viral meme of the Biden era.
The senator from the northeastern state of Vermont, beloved by supporters for his earnest and seemingly grumpy style, was seated alone at the socially distanced event Wednesday where Joe Biden took oath as president.
Social media users quickly pounced on AFP photographer Brendan Smialowski’s shot of a bundled-up Sanders sitting cross-legged, superimposing it on a wide variety of images.
One placed Sanders on a bench next to Tom Hanks in “Forrest Gump”, another put him in detention with the teenagers from “The Breakfast Club”, and he also made it into numerous “Star Wars” scenes.
Some photoshopped him on to the covers of albums by music stars such as Taylor Swift, Kendrick Lamar and Oasis.
“You know, in Vermont… we know something about the cold. We’re not so concerned about good fashion, we want to keep warm. And that’s what I did today,” Sanders said with a snicker on CBS News after the inauguration.
His wife Jane O’Meara Sanders also praised the look, tweeting: “Vermont jacket, Vermont gloves, Vermont common sense!”
Sanders has been in the political limelight for years — most recently, he aimed for the White House in the 2020 Democratic primaries, which he lost to the eventual winner Biden.
But some Twitter users decided to whisk him to other moments in history.
One meme showed him, mittens and all, in a black-and-white photo from the WWII Yalta Conference in 1945, seated next to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, US President Franklin Roosevelt and Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.
Another placed him at the table with Jesus Christ and his apostles in Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper”.
He even made it to the Moon: one meme showed him seated on the surface of the moon, wearing an astronaut’s helmet, next to an American flag.
Sanders’s prominent mittens were made from repurposed wool sweaters and fleece made from recycled plastic bottles by a teacher in Vermont, according to fashion magazine Vogue, which described his style as “anti-fashion”.
Sanders, who had arrived at the Capitol carrying a large brown envelope, was also compared to a grandfather stopping in at the inauguration on the way to the post office, or perhaps he was off to pick up a doctor’s prescription.
Twitter user @BoxrecGrey quipped: “Bernie looks fully prepared to leave this event early to mail his taxes and cash a cashier’s check.”