Here's one more thing Charlestonians can brag about: Zeddie Little, a.k.a. Ridiculously Photogenic Guy of internet fame, grew up here.
Little is actually the fifth person to bear that distinctive name, although he often goes by his middle name*. His father, Zeddie Little IV, goes by Jack, and he is the executive director of East Cooper Community Outreach, an organization based in Mt. Pleasant that provides emergency assistance for food, clothing, household furnishings, and financial needs.
"He called me this morning and said, 'Dad, you're not gonna believe this,'" Jack Little said in an interview on Wednesday. "And I said, 'What?' and he said, 'I'm famous on the internet.'"
The younger Zeddie lives in New York City now, but he returned home last weekend to compete in the Cooper River Bridge Run, where MUSC computer programmer Will King happened to snap a photo of him looking particularly dashing near the start of the race on Coleman Boulevard. King uploaded the picture to the social news website Reddit on Tuesday around lunchtime, along with a note that his friend had dubbed the picture "Ridiculously Photogenic Guy." Within a day, it had been seen over a million times and appropriated for a rather flattering caption-writing meme that took off worldwide. One popular caption for the photo reads, "Runs a marathon and wins my heart," and another reads, "Goes for a jog, whole town follows him."
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Zeddie went to West Ashley High School and then the College of Charleston, where he graduated in 2009 with a bachelor of arts in communications. During college, he took a full-time job in the kitchen at EVO Pizzeria in North Charleston. Ricky Hacker, the owner of the gourmet pizza restaurant, says he hired Zeddie as his first employee when the restaurant opened in March of 2007.
"He was ambitious. He was a really smart guy," Hacker says. "He understood food well and was very interested in it and read a lot on his own. He was very interested in other restaurant scenes outside of Charleston, and he was really in tune with what was going on in New York."
While working at EVO, Hacker says, Zeddie started dating a girl who worked at the restaurant and was originally from New York City. They moved to the city together in the spring of 2011, and according to Jack Little, Zeddie took several restaurant jobs while doing internships in the New York music scene. On Wednesday, the same day his smiling face was blowing up the internet, he took a full-time public relations job for a music venue in Brooklyn, according to his father.
"Oh, I'm excited for him," Jack Little says of his son. "Yeah, I mean he's always been very quiet and very conscientious and never wanted any attention, and I think he's very much deserving of it."
Hacker laughs to think of his old employee's sudden rise to celebrity status. He had a drink with Zeddie at the Tattooed Moose the day before the Bridge Run, and he now sees irony in the whole situation. "It's pretty unexpected, obviously. You know, from Charleston, you live in New York, and you get discovered in Charleston."
"The man was just trying to exercise," he adds.
* Yes, we know Zeddie's middle name, but he has asked us not to publish it just yet. If we get him on the phone for an interview, we will most certainly publish his full name and a juicy Q&A.