‘Deep Down, I’m Just a Regular Guy’

The real person behind worldwide internet meme “Bad Luck Brian” is a down-to-earth husband, father and Kent State alumnus

A purposely goofy high school yearbook photo propelled Kent State alumnus Kyle Craven to internet fame, but he says he has remained the same person he always was.

“It’s been pretty crazy being known as ‘Bad Luck Brian’ online,” said Craven. “It definitely changed my life in unexpected ways. I’ve had some fun opportunities because of it, like meeting people and events, but deep down, I’m just a regular guy.”

How It All Started

Craven posed for the now-infamous photo as "a goof" for his high school yearbook – reddening his face, puffing out his cheeks and wearing a sweater vest from a thrift store. When his high school principal saw the photo, she made Craven re-take it. But the photo lived on. It existed in obscurity for a few years until one of Craven’s friends turned it into a meme. It quickly exploded and became a worldwide internet sensation.

The infamous "Bad Luck Brian" photo

“Bad Luck Brian’s” fame has presented Craven with opportunities to travel to Slovakia and Japan, numerous event appearances and promotions, and recently, starring in TV and online commercials with Shaquille O’Neal.

A Lucky Life

Given his “unlucky” online persona, Craven admits to being “a bit nervous” on Friday the 13th.

“I can’t help but feel like something extra unlucky might happened on that day,” he said. “It’s kind of become a running joke among my family and friends.”


Kent State Today featured Craven sharing a special “good luck” message for his fellow Golden Flashes on Friday the 13th. Despite his alter ego’s reputation for bad luck, Craven’s personal life is actually “pretty lucky,” he says, sharing that he has won numerous raffles, giveaways and prizes on scratch-off lottery tickets.

A Kent State Family

Craven met his wife, Nicole (Ortman), Kent State Class of 2011, in high school and started dating. They both continued their education at Kent State, he in construction management and she in nursing, and married shortly after graduation. “Now, we’re proud parents of two young children and our family calls a beautiful farm in Akron home, where we’re making cherished memories together,” he said.

Alumnus Kyle Craven and his family

Nicole works as a case manager at Aetna and Kyle has a construction business, which he says has been doing “quite well.”

“We’ve been fortunate to work on some exciting projects, which makes work fun,” he said.

When asked whether he thinks his internet notoriety or his degree from Kent State has been more helpful to his career, Craven said, “For my career, my degree from KSU has always been more helpful. While internet fame brought attention and opportunities, my education provided me with the skills and knowledge necessary to pursue my professional goals in construction.”

And “Bad Luck Brian?”

“Overall it’s been a unique experience, bringing laughter to people worldwide,” he said. “It’s part of who I am and I wouldn’t have it any other way.”

Alumnus Kyle Craven at his home in Bath, Ohio giving Flashes the "thumbs up" sign
POSTED: Monday, October 23, 2023 02:46 PM
Updated: Monday, October 23, 2023 03:25 PM
Phil B. Soencksen