Target Star Alex Lee Talks Pressure Over Viral Dreamboat Status Amid Report of Marketing Ploy

“My manager came up to me and she showed me the actual picture–I thought it was fake,” the 16-year-old tells Ellen DeGeneres

A lesson for all struggling teen workers–a little grunt work can turn viral any second.

Alex Lee knows first hand; the 16-year-old was working the cash register at a Texas Target when someone took a photo of him and blasted it on Twitter. 554,000 Twitter followers later, the teen has become an overnight celebrity.

“My manager came up to me and she showed me the actual picture–I thought it was fake,” Lee told Ellen Degeneres, adding that an hour later, random girls came up to him and showed him the picture along with 5,000 more people following him on Twitter. “I was just really confused.”

“I feel so pressured,” Lee said about his new celebrity status, marriage proposals sent to him, and obligations to tweet people back.

And for those wondering, Target denies responsibility for its employee becoming a Twitter sensation.  A rep told TMZ the store had nothing to do with “the creation, listing, or distribution of the photo.”

The mystery behind the picture grew after a marketing company called Breakr took credit for the photo and viral buzz.   According to a LinkedIn post written by the company’s CEO, Dil-Domine Jacobe Leonares, Alex gave permission to the company to take a picture. Next, a Breakr “fangirl”from the UK–@auscalum–tweeted out the picture, and it was off to the social races.

Leonares explained lessons learned from the Alex viral success.

“If you can earn the love and respect from a global community such as the ‘Fangirl’ demographic, you can rally them together to drive awareness for any cause even if it’s to take a random kid from unknown to stardom over night.”

But @auscalum denies working for the company.

And Alex also claimed he doesn’t know who the company is.


And early Wednesday morning, Leonares backtracked on Breakr’s direct influence on the photo going viral in an interview with BuzzFeed.

When asked specifically if he felt like Breakr could really claim responsibility for Alex LaBeouf’s viral rise, Leonares said that it was all a chain reaction that Breakr happened to be a part of.