The first time I saw the photo known as "piggy poop balls" was September 2011. It was attached to a tweet with the unremarkable but soon-to-be-famous URL: http://imgur.com/5pXPI
There was something special about this particular gross photo — something different. Piggy poop balls transcends mere scatological humor. It's sublime. It's art. And it spread like wildfire.
Since then, this porcine sadsack with a potty problem has rarely left the collective consciousness of the internet. It has been viewed over 200,000 times, and is used as either as a catch-all punchline or placeholder for something funny, like a photo version of a Rick-roll for Twitter.
After a little sleuthing, I found that the person who first posted this was Brandon Stien. Brandon told me a friend of his took the photo. He gave me the friend's email address, and the friend responded.
Pig photographer Jeff Reardon explains:
I was at The Minnesota State Fair.... we were in the pig barn and I had noticed this guy was very clean for a pig (probably had just been washed for competition?) and had his butt facing us with gigantic balls.
My friends and I had just noticed him and were all looking at his gargantuan balls for no more than 3 seconds when all of a sudden he poops out this huge turd. It fell out his ass, onto his balls and sat on top of them for about 30 seconds before slowly sliding off. I think he made it fall off by taking a couple steps.
We were horrified and couldn't believe what we just saw. It was a very random and coincidental thing for us all to see. I just happened to have my phone out when it happened, felt compelled to document the nastiness, and there you have it. I sent it to Brandon and he posted it up on Reddit for the world to see.
The picture is disgusting but I still think it's hilarious. I had some lucky timing.
Jeff provided a second picture, never before seen, of a the same pig, after the turd had fallen off the balls.
Exclusive second photo of the pig:
I always had concerns that the pig was unwell. Its ribs seem to be showing, and its testicles seem unnaturally distended. However, it appears that the pig is just fine.
Swine veterinarian Dr. Larry Rueff, who has not treated this pig, says:
Actually the pig is healthy. The fact is the pig is an example of a typical male that is used for breeding. He is extremely lean(little fat) and heavily muscled. The fact that he is tilted a little to his left makes it look like his ribs are showing when actually it is just his skin rolled together.
He has just had a bowel movement and because he has large testicles it had a little difficulty falling to the ground. That would have worked it's self out in a few minutes. He is rather well developed but not unhealthy. In fact the sows(females) would consider him quite healthy!
Sadly, a dark cloud hangs over this image: this famous pig has probably been killed by now. Thank you for all the laughs, little buddy.
UPDATE: A commenter points out that male pigs used for breeding are not typically killed for meat. What a delicious twist: the pig's giant balls are what saved his life.
CORRECTION: The name of the friend of the photographer who posted the photo is Brandon Stien. A previous version misstated his name.
Katie Notopoulos is a senior editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Notopoulos writes about tech and internet culture is cohost of the Internet Explorer podcast.
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