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Bad­die Win­kle chats with In Touch about be­com­ing a vi­ral sensation at age 87 — and meet­ing celebs like Mi­ley Cyrus

Age ain’t noth­ing but a num­ber for Bad­die Win­kle, the badass great-grandma who’s be­come a vi­ral sensation

It started two years ago with a sim­ple tweet. While vis­it­ing her grand­daugh­ter’s fam­ily in Knoxville, Tenn., He­len Ruth Van Win­kle put on one of her typ­i­cal crazy out­fits: cut­off jeans and a tiedyed Grate­ful Dead T-shirt. Great­grand­daugh­ter Kennedy, then 17, tweeted a photo and it went in­stantly vi­ral. “I was as­tounded,” the plucky oc­to­ge­nar­ian tells In Touch. “I couldn’t be­lieve it — and I still can’t!”

She’s now taken the In­ter­net by storm. The 87-year-old started an In­sta­gram ac­count, calling her­self “Bad­die,” and built a fol­low­ing with her wacky cloth­ing and con­fi­dent sense of hu­mor (“Steal­ing your man since 1928,” brags her In­sta­gram bio). She now has 1.9 mil­lion fol­low­ers, a TV com­mer­cial for Smirnoff Ice Elec­tric Fla­vors and a 2016 Shorty Award for In­sta­gram­mer of the Year. “It’s been very ex­cit­ing,” she beams.

The in­stant fame has helped Bad­die cope with tragic loss. The for­mer fac­tory worker’s hus­band had been killed in a car ac­ci­dent on their 35th wed­ding an­niver­sary, and her son’s sub­se­quent death from can­cer at age 46 left her fur­ther de­pressed. Sud­den ac­claim has “changed my life com­pletely,” she says. “I don’t sit around and think it’s the end of the world any­more.”

And now Granny’s got game. When not hang­ing out with new celebrity pals like Gwen Ste­fani (“She’s a great gal”) or Mi­ley Cyrus (“She’s as sweet as she can be”), she’s think­ing up cheeky posts. “It’s kind of a fam­ily thing,” she says, ex­plain­ing that she gets help from her daugh­ter, five grand­chil­dren and three great­grand­chil­dren. Cloth­ing com­pa­nies of­ten send her out­ra­geous out­fits to pro­mote on her sites (she’s made up to $5,000 for promo posts!). But there are lim­its to how far she’ll go. While she has donned a bikini for the cam­era, “I would never pose nude or wear just pasties!” she as­sures.

She’s be­come an in­spi­ra­tion to mil­lions. Peo­ple all over the world now come to Bad­die for ad­vice. “I tell them to eat healthy, get plenty of sleep and keep mov­ing,” shares the golden girl. “You just walk through this world one time, so you might as well be happy!” — Re­port­ing by Diana Cooper


“I love my fans,” says Bad­die, who has 1.9 mil­lion fol­low­ers on In­sta­gram, 222,000 Twit­ter fol­low­ers and 752,000 likes on Face­book. “They give me en­ergy and mo­ti­va­tion.”

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