The Brief: Memes featuring current and former North American leaders Barack Obama, Justin Trudeau, and Enrique Peña Nieto shaking hands represent people bonding over shared experiences and traits.


In 2016, American President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, and Mexican President Enrique Peña Nieto participated in a three-way handshake, inspiring a meme that’s surging in popularity four years later.

Obama, Trudeau, and Peña Nieto shaking hands memes originated from a photo taken at the Three Amigos summit in Ottawa in 2016. The picture shows the three North American leaders semi-awkwardly shaking hands all at once. As a meme format, this image represents people coming together from across aisles and bonding over similarities and shared experiences.

Variations of these memes have circulated online over the years and a version that shows the original photo followed by a red-tinted closeup of everyone’s hands became popular on meme subreddits in late Novembere 2020.

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