The “Disaster Girl” has had her image used – for free – across the globe since 2005. Now, she’s getting some payback.

It’s not the latest action film; it’s a real-life business success story.

Zoe Roth, now 21, is the subject captured in a viral meme – the young girl with the smirk standing in front of a burning house – and now a successful peddler of a six-figure NFT (non-fungible token) of that image.

The University of North Carolina senior enlisted the help of a few key people after someone emailed her about exploring the opportunity to sell, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.

“There’s no way,” she told the paper. 


The NFT of her original image sold for almost a half-million dollars. 

Roth’s father snapped the photo in January 2005 when his daughter was four and decided to enter JPG magazine’s “Emotion Capture” contest in 2007. When the image was posted on the contest website, it burst into prominence.

Dad and daughter brought aboard a manager and a lawyer to help with “minting” the NFT. 

(What’s an NFT? A certificate of ownership for an original digital asset.)

The “Disaster Girl” token went up at auction April 16. At the close of the 24-hour auction, a user named @3fmusic had purchased the token for 180 Ether — worth about $430,000 at the time (a cryptocurrency, Ether’s value can fluctuate by the minute), it’s now closing in on $500,000.

There’s value in a little planning, too: Roth and her dad coded the NFT so that every time it’s purchased, they pull in another 10%. 

“Being able to sell it just shows us that we do have some sort of control, some sort of agency in the whole process,” said Roth, who plans to use the proceeds to pay off student loans and donate to charity.

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