On Monday evening, Leo Kelly went to bed as a normal 6-year-old boy who loves a good Shirley Temple. But on Tuesday morning he woke up an Instagram celebrity for his now-viral reviews of his favorite cherry-flavored soft drink.
The Connecticut first-grader has been the self-proclaimed “Shirley Temple King” since he started ordering the drink when he was just 3 years old.
“He would order them all the time on vacations or ... we've taken him out to dinner with us, especially when he was an only child, all the time,” Leo’s mom, Lisa Kelly, tells Yahoo Lifestyle of her eldest of three children. “So he'd be at really nice restaurants and kid-friendly restaurants and all that, and he would just always order a Shirley Temple.”
This August, however, when Leo tried a particularly delicious version of the mocktail, he decided to take his love of the ginger ale, grenadine and maraschino cherries mix to a new level.
“We were at Gurney's Newport [a resort in Rhode Island], and they had really good Shirley Temples. So then I was like, ‘Dad, can I have a Shirley Temple?’ Then obviously ordered the Shirley Temple and then we tried it,” Leo explains. “And then as we were swimming, I was like, ‘Maybe I could get an Instagram account.’ I told my dad and then planned it out.”
The little boy goes onto explain that his handle, @theshirleytempleking, seemed like the perfect name for the page. And since he’d seen his mom and dad using Instagram before, he knew that they could help to execute it. As for the actual reviews and his presence in front of the camera, Lisa says it’s “all Leo.”
“He'd watch commercials and be like, ‘Mom, I want that toy. But I could promote that way better,’” Lisa explains, adding that Leo has filmed fake YouTube videos on her phone since he was 3 or 4 years old. “It's pretty funny. So he's just been a celebrity in his own right for quite a while.”
Still, Lisa says that she can’t believe people outside of their family have gotten such a kick out of her kid.
“It's so funny to me because, you know, I've been living with this for the past six years and when it's your child, you always think it's cute and it's funny,” she says. “But to see that other people do too, it's like wow.”
Despite having 106,000 followers as of Wednesday morning — exponential growth from his 22,000 follower count at the time that Yahoo Lifestyle spoke with him on Tuesday evening — Leo is still most excited about his friends at school knowing about his account.
“Even my teacher does!” he exclaims. “I’m gonna tell her that like a few nights ago I had 300 followers and now I got 4,000 something.”
After clarifying that he had 22,000 at the time, Leo adds, “I can't even count 22,000!”
Leo now dreams of being a guest on The Ellen Degeneres Show and The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. His mom says that regardless of what happens with this account and all of the attention, Leo’s education and happiness remain the family’s priorities.
“He’s got big plans for himself,” Lisa says.
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