Wendy’s has earned a reputation for being sassy on social media, but one witty response in April brought far more fame than ever expected. It all started when a 16-year-old named Carter Wilkerson asked the restaurant how many retweets it would take to earn him a year’s supply of free chicken nuggets. When Wendy’s gave him a seemingly impossible number (18 million), the hungry nugget-lover wasn’t deterred—and #NuggsForCarter was born.

The request soon went viral, catching the attention and support from brands like Amazon and Microsoft, as well as celebrities like Aaron Paul and NASCAR’s Leavine Family Racing. It became apparent, as the retweets kept piling in, that Carter might very well beat Ellen DeGeneres’ record for the most re-tweets ever—previously earned for her selfie at the 2014 Academy Awards. In defense of her title, DeGeneres even had Bradley Cooper come on her show for a comedic appeal to fans for additional retweets.

In the end, Carter didn’t break 18 million retweets, but he did end up breaking all Twitter records. And yes, he got his nuggs.

So, just how much did Wendy’s benefit from this viral nugget quest on Twitter? A whole lot of earned media.

“Earned media” is the value of engagements a brand receives across channels as a result of their marketing efforts. To help quantify what the value of those engagements are worth, the Ayzenberg Group established the Ayzenberg Earned Media Value Index (AEMVI) and assigned a quantifiable dollar amount for marketing gains a brand receives from a campaign or individual engagement that includes social media networks and similar digital properties. (Editor’s note: AListDaily is the media arm of the Ayzenberg Group.)

Based on the current EMV for Twitter engagements, analysts calculate that . . .

Wendy’s earned:

  • $6,720,000 in EMV: 3.5 million retweets on Carter’s Original tweet
  • $449,937.25 in EMV: 257,107 tweets about #NuggsForCarter

Had Carter met his goal of 18 million retweets, that would equal $34,560,000 in earned media value for Wendy’s.

Wendy’s cost:

  • $1,960.05: A $1.79 six-piece pack of nuggets three times a day, if Carter eats them for every meal, every day.
  • $100,000: Donation to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption (DTFA)

Way to go, Carter! Enjoy your nuggs, you’ve definitely earned them.