The Hawk Tuah Girl: Everything You Need (and Absolutely Don’t Need) to Know (2024)

“Hawk tuah.” A few weeks ago, these words—sounds, really—were little more than a Looney Tunes–esque way to mime the déclassé act of hawking a loogie. How quickly things can change! A young woman named Hailey Welch has gone viral for her spirited interpretation and risqué application of the phrase on camera, earning her the moniker Hawk Tuah Girl and capturing the attention of the nation. (Or at least, a large portion of the nation’s terminally online population.)

Since that fateful video, Welch has been caught in a media storm—addressing rumors on a popular podcast, performing alongside a country star, and selling tens of thousands of dollars of merchandise based on the phrase alone. Things have even taken a political bent, with Welch and her signature phrase becoming an emblem for the American right. All the controversy and the clicks have led to Welch gaining representation with a professional management company as a personality in her own right.

So how did we get here? What does the future hold for Hawk Tuah Girl? What does it even mean “to spit on that thang”? (Well, we won’t be getting into that one.) Here’s everything you need to know about the internet’s latest viral phenomenon.

Where did this all start?

TikTok, of course. The Hawk Tuah phenomenon began when 21-year-old Tennessee native Welch was stopped on the street for a TikTok interview by creator duo Tim and Dee TV. The resulting video, posted June 11, showed the content creators asking various women in Nashville—the unofficial bachelorette party capital of the world—the following question: “What is one move in bed that makes a man go crazy every time?”

Welch’s response? “You gotta give ’em that ‘hawk tuah’ and spit on that thang! You get me?”

The delivery, the specificity, the cadence—it all seemed to add up to more than the sum of its parts. Welch’s strong Southern twang coupled with her comedic timing and true commitment to the bit—she really leaned into the loogie of it all—made the moment pop within an almost 14-minute long video. It quickly became the centerpiece of a standalone TikTok clip that at the time of publishing has received 372,000 likes, 4.1 million views, and thousands of comments, bookmarks, remixes, and reedits. Thus, Hawk Tuah Girl was born.

Is there more to it than that?

Not really. Welch and her friend stuck around for a longer, more in-depth interview with Tim and Dee TV, but it was that one short phrase that catapulted her to mega-virality. Basically, she had us at “hawk tuah.”

But why is she such a big deal?

That’s an amazing question, actually. Hawk Tuah Girl was originally tracking to be a medium-to-high viral internet moment—on par with, or perhaps slightly eclipsing, recent viral sensations like the Girthmaster or the Tall Couple. But the wily whims of the internet, a smattering of misinformation, and incredible timing converged to shoot Hawk Tuah Girl into the stratosphere of viral fame.

First, the misinformation. Immediately after Hawk Tuah went viral, the internet began running wild with jokes about Welch and the alleged consequences of her viral moment. One parody account on Facebook, Tippah County Tribune, wrote a post claiming that Welch, whom it called “Hailey Wellington,” was a preschool teacher at Epstein Day School and had been fired as a result of the video. Children, the Tippah County Tribune wrote, were allegedly “spitting on each other and everything else.” The fake story even included a fake statement from the fake Hailey Wellington, claiming that she planned to seek retribution against the preschool, and that she was throwing a fundraiser in the parking lot of a tractor supply store to retain funds for an attorney. Funny stuff!

While “Epstein Day School” should have been enough to signal to any reasonable person that the account was probably fake, media literacy is in the toilet. As such, the rumor caught wind. Multiple publications, from Yahoo to The Times of India, attempted to set the record straight re: the satirical account, but the damage was already done, contributing to the lore—and more importantly, the notoriety—of the Hawk Tuah Girl.

Eventually, the real Hawk Tuah Girl went on the podcast Plan Bri Uncut to set the record straight, revealing her real name and her real job. (Welch says she worked at a spring factory in her Tennessee hometown.) According to Welch, she was up at 2 a.m. getting ready to clock in for a shift at the factory when she first noticed she was going viral. She said she quit that job.

Good for her. But what was so great about Welch’s timing?

She struck when the iron was hot! Welch partnered with Tennessee-based apparel company Fathead Threads and quickly released a line of merchandise tied to the viral moment. Within weeks of going viral, Fathead Threads had reportedly sold more than $65,000 worth of “Hawk Tuah”–themed merchandise. The merch includes “Hawk Tuah ’24” hats for $32.78 per hat (or $50 for a signed hat—now out of stock).

The Hawk Tuah Girl: Everything You Need (and Absolutely Don’t Need) to Know (2024)
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