In January, Katie Feeney nervously waded through the grass at FedEx Field, the home field of the Washington (formerly Redskins) captains.
The team invited the 19-year-old Maryland native to try out informally for a role that didn’t exist yet – the leaders’ social media reporter. And while she’s hugely popular in content — she’s amassed nearly seven million followers on TikTok and 900,000 followers on Instagram, and amassed a staggering fortune — that was another challenge entirely.
“I was filming behind-the-scenes content for players warming up, hanging out with the fans, basically whatever they did before the game,” Finney said.
It passed with flying colors.
Typically the team’s Instagram posts fetch several thousand likes and 100 or so comments. However, Feeney has garnered more than 42,000 likes and 730 comments.
“After reaching the final on home soil last season, our conversation evolved into how she and the team can mutually grow their partnership in 2022,” said Kevin Klein, Leaders Social Media Manager.
Now, she is the team’s official social media reporter, and the first person to hold such a role in the NFL.
“There aren’t a lot of people my age in the professional sports industry – and certainly not a lot of women – so being able to do that sounds really cool,” said Finney.
Additionally, “My older brothers and I have always been a huge fan of the Leaders. We loved going to games while we were growing up.” She even brought them and her parents with her to the game that made her an NFL party.
“It was surreal,” Finney said. “But I was able to request pictures from the players without feeling shy and embarrassed.”
The first one approached? Terry McLaurin, team wide receiver: “He was fantastic and my brother freaked out.”
the youngest of three children – her father is a deputy state attorney; Her Mom, Event Planner – Vinnie embarked on her social media journey at the age of 13 on Musical.ly (later morphed into TikTok), where she posted short videos with her after-school dance teammates performing popular hits.
“I made comedy videos too,” she added. “I wasn’t into a niche yet, but I had fun. But Musical.ly wasn’t great at all – especially not in the way that TikTok is cool [now]. “
So much so that it made her a target.
“In middle school, I quit work for about a year because the kids were having a hard time with it in school,” Finney said. I was coming home crying, and I said ‘I don’t want to do this. I don’t want to be the weird social media girl. “
After a break, she downloaded Snapchat and then TikTok and started posting again.
But then the COVID-19 lockdown happened and Finney, like many other Americans, was restless and bored. She used her newfound downtime to film Amazon product reviews for everything from skincare to mini cake makers. “I had a lot of time during that long period so I was shooting a few times a day,” she said.
The golden rule of social media success is posting at least once a day to increase your followers, and while growth wasn’t Feeney’s goal, she gained over three million followers on TikTok in a few months.
Then something even crazier happened.
In November of 2020, Snapchat launched its popular Spotlight feature, which allows users to post clips of up to one minute in length. Feeney was an early adopter, posting videos of her favorite products, along with videos and demos. Suddenly, some of her videos have garnered millions of views daily.
At the end of her first week, Vinnie received a notification from Snapchat that her content had earned her over $200,000. In just six weeks, I made over a million dollars from the app.
“I was so shocked. My parents and I didn’t think it was real at first.”
Rather than splurge on a lavish new lifestyle, she opened a 401K, invested and paid for her education in Pennsylvania, where she had just finished her first year in broadcast journalism. You didn’t buy a new car, apartment, or even a handbag.
“I made this crazy amount of money and I have no idea what to do with it,” Finney said. “I’m not a big spender.”
In 2021, it generated over $1 million more in brand deals and creator money across Snapchat Spotlight, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok.
Vinnie said her family, who lives with her in the summer, mocked her for complaining about extra Uber charges: “Mom would joke, ‘You can spend $5 more on Uber.’” I just won a million dollars.”
Last year, I trained with the Penn State soccer team, worked on social media, and that’s how Klein discovered it.
“First of all, she’s a Maryland kid and her family is a Washington fan, and that…originality was what mattered most,” Klein said. “she [also] Very versatile and knows how to really adapt and adapt to any situation.”
Vinnie admitted that she gets recognized all the time, mostly on campus.
The people were nice and respectful. For the most part, I get a lot of positive responses, and it’s always fun when someone notices me when I’m outside,” she said.
She’s come a long way since high school, when she could barely stand the negative comments.
“If someone is taking the time out of their day to say something mean, they are probably going through something, so I try not to take it personally,” she said, adding that the law of averages: “If you have a large following on social media, you will get A lot of mean people in your feed. But if social media and promoting something you love on social media is something that brings joy to people, then go ahead. If I can spread this message… it worked.”
Although she has already landed the job of her dreams, Vinnie plans to finish her education – not sure that she will remain in the same field.
Social media, after all, is an ever-evolving industry, and Finney realizes that it’s difficult, if not impossible, to guess where he might be in a few years. So she is not determined to build her career around it, although she wants to stay in the sport.
“I’ve always loved going to games, and being on the field with football at Penn State is very exciting. [Social media] Vinny said. “I would like to become a sports broadcaster.”