Industrious Teen Falls Short of Retweet Goal—but Wendy’s Gives Him Nuggets for a Year Anyway

Carter gets his ‘nuggs’ after setting a Twitter record

The 16-year-old needed 18 million retweets. He got 3.4 million, a Twitter record, and that was good enough for Wendy’s. Illustration: Dianna McDougall; Sources: Wendys
Headshot of Christine Birkner

In April, 16-year-old Carter Wilkerson had a dream—to score a year’s worth of free chicken nuggets from Wendy’s. So, he tweeted his wish to the fast-food giant, which struck a bargain with him. If Wilkerson could get 18 million retweets, Wendy’s would fork over the nuggets.

Wilkerson quickly enlisted the help of the internet, tweeting, “Help me please. A man needs his nuggs.”

Twitter fully embraced Wilkerson’s mission, spawning the hashtag #NuggsForCarter and helping his post garner more than 3.4 million retweets, a major branding coup for Wendy’s. Although he fell shy of his goal, Wendy’s awarded Wilkerson his year’s supply of nuggets today anyway, along with a $100,000 donation to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption.

“We knew that love for Wendy’s nuggets ran deep, but we didn’t expect Carter’s response to receive so much support on Twitter and set an all-time record,” said Kurt Kane, chief concept and marketing officer for Wendy’s. “[Wilkerson] more than earned our respect—and the nuggets.”

Wilkerson’s became the most retweeted tweet of all time, hitting just over 3.4 million and breaking the previous record set by Ellen DeGeneres’ celebrity-studded Oscars selfie from 2014. Along the way, Wilkerson become an internet celebrity, scoring ink in The New York Times and People magazine. Brands like Amazon, Google, Microsoft and United Airlines tweeted their support.

DeGeneres herself even weighed in on the phenomenon on her show. Dream big, kids.

@ChristineBirkne Christine Birkner is a Chicago-based freelance writer who covers marketing and advertising.