This week, a tweet went viral. A painfully earnest call for staying in and making healthy choices from a pitch-perfect imitation of Chance The Rapper's Twitter account, it's elicited praise, groans, and, most importantly, retweets. At over 250,000 retweets, it's almost five times as popular as Chance's tweet announcing the release of Coloring Book and slightly more retweeted than Chance's most popular tweet of all time, his rendition of the #sogonechallenge last year. At first glance, it looks exactly like Chance's real account, which is why it's fooled so many people. Both accounts use the same profile picture, and the fake account's handle, ChanceFrom79th, is a recreation of the account name on Chance's actual Twitter: Lil Chano From 79th. You need to click through to see the account's bio to realize it is, ostensibly, a parody account.
The tweet was, in its own way, genius. It took the relentlessly positive public persona of Chance The Rapper, and turned the dial up just enough to take it to a logical but still relatable extreme. It's likely that most of the quarter of a million people who have retweeted it (so far) have no idea it's not a real account.
According to the account's owner, he's a 17-year-old high school senior from Minnesota named Danny Diaz who's become an expert at making Twitter accounts blow up over the past few years, and his ostensible Chance parody is just one piece of a burgeoning business empire. We talked on the phone about his "five-figure" income, the difference between parody and impersonation, and college applications.
How old are you?
Where are you from?
Minnesota, the Minneapolis suburbs.
When did you start this account?
About two weeks ago.
Why did you start it?
Because I’m a fan of Chance and, I don’t know, I just wanted to have an account of him.
Is this something you have done before? Do you have any other accounts like this?
Oh yeah, I have a Khalid one, I have a Logic one.
What are their account handles?
TheOnlyKhaIid, and the L in Khalid is an i.
When did you get into making these accounts?
About two years ago.
And what got you interested in doing this?
When I realized there was money to be made.
So this is one of those things where, if you get enough people to follow you then you can do promoted tweets?
If you have an audience, you can promote anything.
And what kind of stuff are you promoting?
Uh, nothing right now, I’m just growing accounts right now.
I grew 20,000 followers in, like, 12 hours when that tweet went off.
Have you promoted stuff in the past or is this just like your long term goal?
I have other big accounts that aren’t exactly like Chance, and I promote stuff on there
What are the other ones?
And what’s the story behind that one? What’s it about?
It’s just a big account, I just retweet ads and stuff and I get some revenue from that.
Is there a community of people who are doing this? How did you learn how to do it?
Yeah, there actually is a community, and all the top guys follow each other, with like personal accounts.
When you got started how did you get the hang of it so fast?
Well, I just used Twitter and then just learned how to gain followers pretty easily. This was back three or four years ago, when it was really easy. Now it’s not as easy anymore, but it still works.
And then you realized their was a business opportunity and started to use it for that?
How much would you say you make in a month from these accounts?
About 10 times what the average 17-year-old makes.
I don’t know what the average 17-year-old makes.
Um, a lot. I think we can say I make...five figures a year is a good number to say.
Low five figures, high five figures, or mid five figures?
What are you doing with that money? Are you saving it or spending it?
I keep investing it.
OK, what are you investing it in? Like the stock market, in companies, are you giving your friends money to do their own stuff?
I have lent my friends money to do this too, and I do have some bitcoin investments, if you know what that is. That’s doing pretty well right now. Then I do reinvest in other Twitter accounts and stuff.
a parody account is just like you’re just a fan of the rapper or the person.
What’s the coolest thing you’ve bought for yourself with the money you’ve made? Not an investment, just something to spend money on.
Oh, man. I buy some expensive clothes, I guess you could say. Some shirts. I bought some Supreme shirts and two pairs of Yeezys. The Black Pirates and the V2 Belugas.
And this is from how many accounts?
From three, and then I have other smaller ones that I build.
So the Chance account is one that you are just building?
And you started it because you like Chance?
Oh yeah this one, I am a fan of Chance. I’ve tried to connect with the—I’m building the account, and that is built around Chance.
Is it easy to tweet as Chance? A lot of people were getting fooled.
I just try to tweet good vibes and kind of what Chance would tweet, you know? That does well.
How did you figure out how to get his voice down that quickly? Just from following him?
Oh yeah, and I listen to his music. He’s just a cool guy, and he’s a guy that I follow.
What’s your favorite Chance song?
So that crazy viral tweet over the weekend, how did that happen? Was it a tweet that you wrote, did you find it? Walk me through that.
Well most of the tweets I write, it’s me and a friend actually, that grow the account, and that was actually his tweet.
And he was thought this is the kind of positive advice that Chance would be giving?
Yeah it’s just positive vibes, like whatever we’re thinking of, we tweet.
And how did you feel when it picked up like that?
It was actually pretty crazy. I’ve never seen anything like that, or had anything like that happen to me. It was pretty nice.
So you’ve been running all of these viral accounts but that’s the biggest tweet you guys have seen so far? I saw it was at like 250K retweets.
Oh yeah. It’s crazy. 15 million impressions of people viewing the tweet. That just blows my mind.
What are the replies like? It seems like a lot of people think that your account is Chance the Rapper now.
Yeah, actually a lot of celebrities follow me. It’s kind of funny, the rapper S-Z-A retweeted me, which is funny, I thought. But then there’s actually people that are angry that I am impersonating Chance and they think that I am a fake parody account. That’s not really it, it’s more like, I like Chance, I like the messages he is sending out. It’s just free promotion for him, really.
Well, people will follow this account and think that it’s Chance. You use the same image and header, so at first glance people will think it’s Chance.
Well it’s not malicious at all.
I didn’t say it was malicious. You can see why people would be confused, right?
So, can you explain the difference between a parody account and impersonating? Are they the same thing to you?
Well, impersonating would be like somebody taking advantage and saying, “I’m the real Chance, go to this clickbait website” or something shady like that. And a parody account is just like you’re just a fan of the rapper or the person.
You do plan on making money off this account eventually, right?
I don’t know if that’s...If I make money it would only be selling it.
I JUST TRY TO TWEET GOOD VIBES AND KIND OF WHAT CHANCE WOULD TWEET, YOU KNOW? THAT DOES WELL.
How many followers would you need on another account to start making money? When does that start happening?
I could sell the account right now for significant value but it’s not in my best interest to sell. I mean, I grew 20,000 followers in, like, 12 hours when that tweet went off.
What is high school like? Being super popular on Twitter and still being a high school student.
Yeah, everyone at school is asking for retweets. Everyone’s asking like, “that’s so cool, can you get me into the game? Can you teach me how to do Twitter?” It gets a little annoying at times, but it has its perks.
Does it help with girls?
[Laughs] Uh, it does, it does. It’s an attention-getter.
What’s next for the Chance account?
Keep on spreading good vibes and keep on, you know, growing it, I guess. If anybody from Chance’s—or anybody that manages Chance—has a problem with anything they can contact me and I could either give them the account, or find a way to make things good, if they think there’s something wrong with it.
You seem like a real smart kid, are you planning on going to college? Is that part of what you’re saving up for?
Oh yeah. College is still a number one goal. Yeah.
You’re a senior now?
I’m a senior now, yeah.
So the college applications are due in a few months.
How’s that process going for you?
Good, I’m looking at like U of M and Madison and UCLA.
Are you going to use your experience as a Twitter businessman on your college applications?
I’m sure it can’t hurt, so I mean, yeah.