Photo (cc) by Stéfan
When Candace Payne purchased an electronic Chewbacca mask on a whim from her local Kohl’s store, she had no idea what followed would turn her life upside down.
On May 19, the 37-year-old mom live-streamed a video on Facebook of her opening the mask and trying it on as she dissolves in a fit of hysterical delight. Her infectious laughter mixes with Chewbacca’s distinctive purrs and grunts, and it’s impossible to hold back your own giggles as the 4-minute video unfolds.
It’s immediately clear that Payne loves “Star Wars” and that she is tickled pink to have a Chewbacca mask that makes the standard Chewbacca sounds when its mouth opens, which happens every time she laughs and causes her to laugh even harder.
“This is the best birthday present ever to myself,” Payne exclaims at the end of the video. “It’s the simple joys.”
If you haven’t watched the video yet, check it out and see if you don’t smile along with the millions of others before you.
Much to the surprise of Payne, the unassuming Dallas-area wife and mother, her video immediately went viral after she posted it. With more than 137 million views, it’s now the most-watched video ever on Facebook Live, Fortune reports.
Payne’s video has also been a boost for Kohl’s, where she purchased the now-famous mask. The retailer expressed its appreciation by showing up at Payne’s house and handing out “Star Wars” goodies, including another Chewbacca mask, to her and her family, as well as $2,500 worth of Kohl’s Gift Cards.
Due to the popularity of Payne’s video, the Chewbacca masks are now a hot commodity. They’re sold out at Kohl’s, Walmart, Target and Toys R Us. You could potentially get a mask on Amazon or on eBay, but you’ll pay a premium. The masks originally sold for about $30, like the one seen here at Walmart.
Amazon has some of the masks, starting out at $100 a pop, and eBay has several of the masks on auction or with price tags of $95 and up.
As a thank you for Payne, Hasbro, which produced the mask, gave Payne and her family a huge basket of “Star Wars” figurines and merchandise.
Payne, who was featured on “Good Morning America” on Monday, told NPR that she has been overwhelmed and touched by people’s response to her video.
“I’ve had some people — they’ve sent me private messages, and they’ll just say stuff like, ‘Man, I’ve been battling depression. So-and-so passed away, and I hadn’t laughed since they died, and this video made me laugh again,'” Payne says. “I couldn’t ask for more. It’s just awesome.”
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