Candace Payne became an overnight sensation in May when her Facebook Live video of her trying on a Chewbacca mask in a parking lot went viral.
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The original video currently has over 164,000,000 views, which shocks Payne to this day.
“You could expect maybe, you know, maybe 100 of your friends sharing it and thinking it was funny, but nothing like this,” Payne said in an interview for the ABC News special "The Year: 2016," which airs on Dec. 20 at 9 p.m. ET. “I don’t even know that many people.”
Aside from earning her the nickname “Chewbacca Mom,” the experience has changed her life completely, Payne said.
“It’s changed the trajectory of my life and the trajectory of my family’s life,” Payne said. “It will never be the same for us. It’s so cool to see that. They have so many more opportunities already just because of what a silly little video and mask has done.”
After her video went viral, Payne found herself making appearances all over television, including on “Good Morning America.” She says the video made opportunities she never had before possible.
“The doors of opportunity that have been opened. … [I’m] able to travel and I’ve started speaking at different places. I’ve been speaking on simple joys 'cause I think even that phrase -- I didn’t expect it to take off like it did at the beginning of the video,” said Payne.
“When I got to meet him, that was a surreal moment for me. I think I shushed him,” Payne said. “He introduced himself, and I was like, ‘Shh, I need to process this.’”
Payne said there has been some negative backlash because of her video and viral fame, but she said she tries not to pay attention to it.
“They can have any opinions that they want of me. I have opinions of people and things that I don't even know. I mean, I don't expect everybody to be positive all the time. But I do expect for myself to be responsible for how I am and how I respond. And so that's all I can do,” she said.
Payne’s kids are still too young to fully understand what happened, she said. She said they call themselves the “Chewbacca Kids” and her husband “Chewbacca Dad.”
She still can’t believe how her video changed her life.
“I didn’t know it would be like this, and I’m grateful that the world found me. I am,” said Payne.