SpongeBob SquarePants is a household favorite and believe it or not, Nickelodeon is commemorating 20 years of SpongeBob SquarePants! Launched July 17, 1999, it has reigned as the number-one kids’ animated series on TV for the last 17 years, generating a universe of beloved characters, pop culture catchphrases and memes, theatrical releases, consumer products, a Tony award-winning Broadway musical and a global fan base.

In honor of the anniversary, the “Best Year Ever” kicks off Friday, July 12th, with the premiere of “SpongeBob’s Big Birthday Blowout,” an original mixed live-action and animated special, and leads up to the Paramount Pictures and Nickelodeon Movies theatrical, The SpongeBob Movie: It's a Wonderful Sponge, coming summer 2020.

“The tiny residents of Bikini Bottom have held the world’s attention for a remarkable 20 years and we owe it all to the monumental creator Stephen Hillenburg,” said Ramsey Naito, EVP, Animation Production and Development, Nickelodeon. “This anniversary special is a love letter to everyone in the universe of SpongeBob, from the fans across the globe to the incredible creative team, crew and talent who continue to bring these great characters to life.”

It’s SpongeBob’s birthday in “SpongeBob’s Big Birthday Blowout,” which features for the first time the celebrated voice talent behind SpongeBob, Patrick, Mr. Krabs, Sandy, Squidward and Plankton playing live-action doppelgänger versions of the animated characters they voice. In the one-hour special, Patrick and SpongeBob journey to the surface world, where they come across a few familiar characters during lunchtime rush at The Trusty Slab restaurant. Meanwhile, the Bikini Bottom residents set up a surprise party for SpongeBob.

Nickelodeon will also commemorate the series with: a new product line by master toy partner Alpha Group, featuring figures that showcase SpongeBob’s iconic meme moments; collaborations with lifestyle brand Cynthia Rowley for a SpongeBob wetsuit and international mixed-media artistRomero Britto; the launch of a dedicated YouTube channel and mobile game; and more.

SpongeBob SquarePants has hit a wide variety of milestones in 20 years:

  • · Every four seconds, someone in the world is talking about SpongeBob on social media.
  • The franchise has garnered $13 billion in lifetime retail sales of consumer products.
  • The series is the recipient of multiple Emmy Awards: Outstanding Performer in an Animated Program for Tom Kenny (2018), Outstanding Children’s Animated Series (2018), Outstanding Achievement in Sound Editing (2014), and Outstanding Special Class Animated Program (2010), along with a special honor presented to Stephen Hillenburg at the 2018 Daytime Emmy Awards for his contribution and impact in the animation field.
  • SpongeBob was the first square-shaped balloon in Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade history.
  • A new species of tulip was named after SpongeBob in Holland (2010).
  • San Francisco State University discovered a new mushroom species and named it after SpongeBob (2011).
  • United States Postal Service mailboxes across the country were wrapped in a custom SpongeBob design (2013).
  • SpongeBob SquarePants has “saved lives:” a Long Island girl saved her friend from choking because she learned the Heimlich from SpongeBob (2012); an Australian man lost at sea was found by a helicopter that spotted his yellow SpongeBob trunks (2012); and an entire family was saved from a sinking boat by plugging up the hole with a SpongeBob football (2007).