Will a teenager's plea for free food surpass Ellen Degeneres and Barack Obama?

wendy's free chicken nuggets
Credit: © Bloomberg / Getty Images

If you’re at all baffled with how social media works, this story might leave you scratching your head until your hair falls out. A 16-year-old from Reno, Nevada, could potentially set the record for the most retweeted tweet of all time… because users on Twitter want to help him get free Wendy’s chicken nuggets for a year. Going viral has never paired so well with honey mustard sauce.

As we covered this past Friday, the whole thing started with a simple question posed on Twitter. A young man named Carter Wilkerson tweeted to Wendy’s, “Yo @Wendys how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?” Wendy’s responded with just a number: “18 Million.” Now, importantly, this number was clearly a joke. The most retweeted tweet in the history of Twitter is from Ellen DeGeneres, and it only has about 3.3 million retweets. Reaching 18 million retweets would be impossible. Or would it…?

Taking Wendy’s up on its challenge, Carter Wilkerson posted a tweet on April 5 that said, “HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS,” and featured a screengrab of his interaction with the fast food chain. That tweet now stands at nearly 2.5 million retweets and climbing.

As Huffington Post points out, if the tweet continues at its current rate, it could pass the DeGeneres tweet by as early as this Thursday. But even if the nuggs tweet doesn’t reach that coveted status, it’s already landed in some impressive territory: Wilkerson has easily toppled a previous top retweet holder you may recognize: Barack Obama. His 2012 re-election celebration tweet “Four more years” has only been retweeted 940,000 times.

The biggest question, however, is whether 18 million is even an outside possibility. According to Twitter, the site has 313 million monthly active users. Though the company also says that 79 percent of accounts are outside of the United States, meaning probably only about 65 million users or so can relate to this madness from an American perspective. Meanwhile, only 76 accounts on Twitter have more than 18 million followers. But hey, if 19 million people can be convinced to follow The Economist, I give Wilkerson an outside shot

Video: Fried Chicken Sandwich at American Cut

If you haven’t already, why not toss Wilkerson a retweet? This isn’t just about nuggs anymore. This is about history… and barbecue dipping sauce.