(WITI) — Was it A HOAX?!
That’s what CBSLA is suggesting about a video that went viral last month — showing a homeless man buying food for friends with $100 he was given. The video warmed the hearts of more than 25 million people who clicked on it.
In the video, the homeless man is filmed walking to a convenience store and buying food for some of his homeless friends. The man who would eventually upload the video to YouTube approaches the homeless man and gives him another $100 — saying he couldn’t believe his generosity.
Donations came pouring in for the homeless man named Thomas.
CBSLA reports the man who uploaded the video to YouTube says it’s real. But a witness to the filming tells CBSLA the entire thing is a hoax.
That witness told CBSLA he “definitely” saw Thomas in the vehicle belonging to the man who eventually uploaded the video to YouTube. In fact, he tells CBSLA they drove Thomas to the convenience store.
But the man who uploaded the video purported in the video that Thomas didn’t know he was being filmed.
The witness tells CBSLA he believes Thomas is truly homeless, but he says he believes the viral video was staged.
“I think the manner in how they portrayed the entire video is deceitful and dishonest,” the witness told CBSLA.
Additionally, Thomas’ brother has reached out to CBSLA. He says his brother’s real name is Kenny Nickel, and says he struggles with alcoholism. Kevin Nickel tells CBSLA his brother lived with their parents until they both died last summer — saying Kenny Nickel is “sitting on money” — owed $150,000 from his parents’ estate.
“This is a scam. This (donated) money needs to go to people who really need it,” Kevin Nickel said.
CBSLA reports critics of the video have suggested Thomas would have had to have walked for at least 34 minutes to the convenience store — passing cheaper stores along the way. They also suggest Thomas’ reaction was “rather blase” for a homeless man who just received $100 from a stranger.
CLICK HERE for more on this story via CBSLA.