LONDON - Former Liberal Democrat leader Paddy Ashdown, the party's campaign coordinator, became a social media sensation after he made an unusual claim on national television.
"If this exit poll is right, I will publicly eat my hat," he told the BBC on May 7.
He had refused to believe an exit poll prediction of just 10 seats for his party, down from 57 seats in 2010. He was speaking to Mr Andrew Neil as part of the BBC's election coverage.
Hours later, he was offered a hat on the same BBC programme but Lord Ashdown did not carry out his promise. By then his party's fate has become clearer. Lord Ashdown said: "I think it's the last time I would question a BBC exit poll.
"(Alistair Campbell) and I were on the same programme and he said he will eat his kilt so I'm going to suggest we have a public ritual humiliation where he will eat his kilt and I'll eat my hat and we'll sell tickets. How about that?", he told Mr Neil.
Final tally showed that his party won eight seats.
Reactions came quick on Twitter. Within minutes of his first comments on May 7, someone started an expletive-rich spoof Twitter account named after the Hat . The account garnered 12,000 Twitter followers within half a day. Several more were created.
— BBC Trending (@BBCtrending) May 7, 2015
Paddy Ashdown's Hat now has four Twitter accounts
— The Conversation (@ConversationUK) May 8, 2015
Below are some of the memes:
Ex-Lib Dems leader says he'll eat his hat if polls are right. Looks like that will happen as party faces disaster. http://t.co/Mm3dg2Ojv5
— Jim Roberts (@nycjim) May 8, 2015
Does Paddy Ashdown still need a hat to eat? pic.twitter.com/Vs9nDz3Tpt
— Emily Ashton (@elashton) May 8, 2015
— Lee Mark Davies (@LeeMarkDavies) May 8, 2015
— Victoria Grainger (@VGrainger) May 8, 2015
— Mike FC (@Gerundagula) May 8, 2015
— Cakes by Robin (@Cakes_by_Robin) May 8, 2015
— Chris Hamlett (@hamlettcae) May 7, 2015
— Ian Leigh (@jianleigh) May 7, 2015
— Susanna Jertel (@SusannaJertel) May 7, 2015
— John M Knox (@johnmknox) May 7, 2015
— Simi Ben Hur (@SimiBH) May 8, 2015
Accurate simulation of Paddy Ashdown eating his hat, again from our graphics team pic.twitter.com/bZiYgwgnBr
— Karl Sharro (@KarlreMarks) May 7, 2015
— Carlsberg UK (@CarlsbergUK) May 8, 2015
— Crispin Shingler (@CrispinShingler) May 7, 2015