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The Minneapolis 8-year-old whose face is known throughout China

Gavin Thomas is an internet superstar in the Asian nation.

To Minnesotans, Gavin Thomas is just your typical boy. But in China? He can't go anywhere without being mobbed by fans.

The Minneapolis 8-year-old has become the unlikeliest of internet sensations across the Pacific Ocean, where his face has been shared more than a billion times.

That's because Gavin – known as "fake smile boy" – became the go-to meme for Chinese social media users, who according to the BBC use Thomas' various amusing expressions to describe how they're feeling when they're too polite to say it.

His internet notoriety started in 2013, the Guardian reports, when his uncle Nick Mastodon started taking Vines of his then 2-year-old nephew, which became a big hit on the 6-second video platform.

The videos reached China, where social media users started taking screenshots of Gavin's face and using them as reaction memes.

Here's an American example.

As the Guardian notes, his dad didn't even realize how internet famous his son was until late 2017 when some of his co-workers asked why he had a picture of the "meme kid" on his desk.

Fast-forward to today, and Gavin's American profile is growing.

He has more than 1.5 million followers on Facebook, over 450,000 on Twitter, has his own manager and legal team, and this past November was invited to the official premiere of "Wreck-It Ralph Breaks The Internet."

In China, Gavin amassed more than 1.8 million followers on social media site Weibo in just four months, CitizenTV reports.

He's made a few visits to China as well, where he's the biggest of celebrities.

Not bad for an 8-year-old school kid from Minneapolis.

Here's more about Gavin's rise to internet superstardom courtesy of the BBC.

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