Jennifer Ellis has never met Bernie Sanders, and yet her name has entered the history of the United States since Wednesday, alongside the senator from Vermont. It was she who sewed the famous mittens that “Bernie” wore at Joe Biden’s investiture ceremony, Wednesday, January 20, and she is now overwhelmed by orders and requests.
This 42-year-old teacher was leading, until Wednesday, “a quiet life” in her small town of Essex Junction, Vermont, she told AFP in a video interview. She was teaching her CE1 students online when her phone started making a series of “ding”. Worried, she interrupted her class to check the messages: “Bernie Sanders wears your mittens to the nomination”, they announced to him in substance.
The story of these eco-friendly mittens – they are made from recycled wool, lined with fleece fabric made from also recycled plastic bottles – is touching. Fan of the socialist senator, convinced ecologist, Jennifer had sent him a pair of mittens after her defeat against Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary for the 2016 presidential election, to console him. She knew from common knowledge that he liked them, nothing more. Then last year, when “Bernie” tried again for the presidential race, she learned that he had lent the mittens to someone with cold hands. “I was so touched that I sent her 10 more pairs”, she says.
This had already earned him a mini-buzz, but without comparison with the one around him since Wednesday: his phone rings non-stop, his mailbox has exploded. And an endless number of ‘memes’ – images created by Internet users, showing the socialist senator from Vermont, soon in his eighties, bundled up in his down jacket and mittens, superimposed on The Lord’s Supper by Leonardo da Vinci or other famous paintings – have ignited social networks. To the delight of Jennifer, who finds these memes “hilarious”, at a time when “people need to laugh at things that are harmless, not political”, after a particularly “trying”.
In two hours, Bernie #Sanders has already become a meme
– Antoine Llorca (@antoinellorca) January 20, 2021
She could take advantage of her sudden notoriety: in two days, she received “about 13,000 emails from people” ready to buy him the same mittens, “and not just a pair, they want a lot”. Not only would she never be able to meet the demand, with her 30-year-old sewing machine and teaching job, she doesn’t even want to: “It would spoil all the beauty of the thing”. She prefers to spend her weekends with her family, with her 5-year-old daughter. And “so much the better”, she says, if others take advantage of this sudden enthusiasm for her mittens: models were found Friday claiming to be absolutely identical to hers for $ 85 a pair on some websites.