The photo that shot Axelle Despiegelaere to social media stardom. Photo: Getty Images
For Axelle Despiegelaere the internet giveth, and the internet taketh away.
In a little over a week, the 17-year-old football fan went from model to monster after being plucked from the crowd at the World Cup and reportedly offered a lucrative contract with L’Oreal before images of her hunting wild game in Africa surfaced.
Outrage ensued and forced Despiegelaere to shut down her social media accounts before apologising for the offensive image.
Ms Despiegelaere hunting in Africa. Photo: Facebook
“Hi, I didn’t mean to offend anyone... it was a joke. Thanks for understanding,” she signed off before closing down her Facebook page. A fan page was then established and has now amassed more than 260,000 fans.
L’Oreal confirmed on that Friday Ms Despiegelaere is not an official ambassador or model for the cosmetics and hair care company.
“L’Oreal Professional Belgium collaborated with her on an ad hoc basis to produce a video for social media use in Belgium,” a spokeswoman told Fairfax Media.
Pamela Anderson's first commercial for her football team's sponsor in the early '90s. Photo: Tumblr
That video, which is nothing more than footage of the teenager having her long hair washed and blow dried, was posted on YouTube and has clocked up more than 1.3 million views in three days.
Ms Despiegelaere is the latest in a long list of young, blonde and enthusiastic sport fans who have captured the attention of internet users and executives alike.
Back in 1989 a fitness instructor by the name of Pamela Anderson attended a local football game in Canada. Footage of her cheering on her team while wearing a tight T-shirt was broadcast over the giant screen inside the stadium to rapturous applause. The bean counters noticed and promptly hired her to appear in commercials. Months later Pamela Anderson Inc. was born after she featured in Playboy and told the world of her ambitions to be “a wonderful wife and mother, and win an Oscar.”
Kate Upton was discovered in 2011 while dancing in the stands at a basketball game in LA. Photo: YouTube
More recently, Kate Upton was just a struggling model who was told by her agency she wasn’t “fashion enough” to be successful. It wasn’t until her friend uploaded a video of the real life, albeit more busty version of Frozen's Elsa dancing and shimmying at an LA Clippers game in 2011 that fame and fortune found her.
The video of her doing the hip-hop dance called “The Dougie” was viewed 3.1 million times before other viral videos followed suit as did the modelling offers from GQ, Sports Illustrated and Victoria’s Secret. The 22-year-old made the transition from broadband to big screen earlier this year after Hollywood executives cast her alongside Cameron Diaz and Leslie Mann in the comedy The Other Woman.