He's now known on the Web as the man with the golden voice. But before that, he was known as a guy standing on the side of the road with a sign - just like many other homeless people.
The man with the golden voice, Ted Williams, is an internet sensation. And apparently, his fame may have landed him a pretty good gig: CNN affiliate WEWS reported that the Cleveland Cavaliers have offered Williams a job and a house.
Williams' story is the epitome of how dreams can come true in the internet age. And practically overnight.
His story was first reported in the Columbus Dispatch; a photographer drove up to Williams on the side of the road and videotaped him as he held a sign that said in part, "I have a God given gift of voice." The photographer wanted him to prove it to earn some cash, and boy, did Williams deliver. He rattled off, in a James Earl Jones-esque voice, what seemed like a perfect radio station tease.
YouTube: Watch full video
The story exploded from there. From all over the internet, including on the message board Reddit, people began tracking his whereabouts and trying to offer him jobs. That led to radio interviews and even an interview with CBS's "Early Show" today.
Oh, and did we mention that the video of him speaking for the Dispatch reporter has gotten (as we write this) more than 4.5 million hits in just two days? It's also the top viral video, according to ViralVideoChart.com, which tracks the rate of shares and clicks on videos.
Click to watch video
Call him the radio-voice version of Susan Boyle.
Frumpy British singer Boyle "dreamed a dream" on a TV talent show and sold millions of records, proving that sometimes the most sensational voices come from the places you least expect. And then again, perhaps we jump to conclusions when we form impressions about people.
"Hand on heart, we didn't know what was coming at all," CNN's Piers Morgan, who was a judge on "Britain's Got Talent," recently said of Boyle."We were like 'Oh, my God, this is going to be a total train wreck.' We were all laughing and mocking.
"The moment she sang, you see our faces frozen into two kinds of horror," he added. "One, that we didn't recognize her talent, and two, that we now know there's going to be a YouTube clip for the rest of our lives of us mocking this amazing woman. ... So whenever I have someone coming on who is not your standard-looking pop star, I sit there resolutely, just in case."
Indeed, Morgan is applying that lesson with Williams, tweeting earlier, "Greatest unheard radio voice ever: http://bit.ly/hkeanN If you know this guy pls tell him to enter 'America's Got Talent'."
Now, Williams is experiencing a similar whirlwind tour.
Although he didn't have Boyle's TV platform, or a similar show that shot a Taiwanese boy to fame for singing like Whitney Houston, he did have the same power of the Web. Who knows how many people drove past Williams as he stood on the street, waiting for someone to recognize his talents, before he was taped and put on YouTube.
"Hopefully somebody from one of these television or radio stations will say, 'hey, I need a voice-over' or ' I need something,' " Williams said on "The Early Show."
And because of his internet rise to fame, now the dream that Williams has dreamed for so long for himself may also be coming true.
WEWS said that although they are still tightening up a deal, the Cavaliers offered him full-time voiceover work with the team and with Quicken Loans, the mortgage giant founded by Cavs owner Dan Gilbert, along with the mortgage for a house.
They may have lost the power of LeBron James in their building, but perhaps the Cavs have gained the power of a voice that may become a legend.
Word is going around that this is a hoax put on by a local radio station, not sure that is true but sure is a clever marketing idea.
Howard Stern perpetuated that rumor, and it is completely false. This dude has been standing with that sign for over a year, just waiting for someone to notice him. Those of us who actually live in Central Ohio can attest to having seen him before. The local radio show was just the first to contact him and get him on the air.
The fact that we've become so cynical anymore is just so, so sad.
Walker that is either foolish or slimy, why did you not specify it was rumor, or worse Howard Stern tactics.
Well, truth is stranger than fiction..!
The background music on the video is so loud I can't hear his voice.
What a great way to replace Lebron in Cleveland. Speak it brother Ted!!
It's easy to see that this man has shed his pride and has embraced humility. His blessings are at work as we speak. This is awesome. :)
Yeah, wow! .... I know this is soooo cliche', but this is a prime example of why we should never judge a book by its cover.
Wow... sounds like Conversations with God all over again.
He's very well spoken and seems educated. Makes me wonder about some of the other homeless out there. Hope something comes of this....also why is everyone mentioning God? A magic genie has about as much to do with this as Christian mythology does.
Because Ted mentioned on the radio that it was only after he began praying that this break finally came his way.
Lots of folks pray to a variety of deities. No need to poo-poo those who do, even if you don't.
He didn't "poo poo" anything. He asked a legitimate question. How does someone's faith directly translate to "god saved me but had nothing to do with me being there in the first place?"
Why is it so uncomfortable for you to have someone question faith? Why do you assume that's wrong? I could sit here for an hour an argue about the benefits of faith....and for about 10 about the downsides, relative to human social progress and our understanding of concepts like neurotheology and binary opposition.
Debating faith is healthy, because faith only remains health itself via social moderation over time. That, in turn, is dependent on conflicts between old ideas and new. If we don't discuss this stuff, and instead act like a bunch of faith-dependent sheep, we slow human progress unnecessarily.
Great story. Glad He's picked himself up and stayed clean. Best wishes for him and his future.
An incredible voice. It sounds as if he is talking through a very, very expensive studio microphone.
Will he accept the offer from the Cavs or decide to take his talents to South Beach?
Sorry, but Susan Boyle is the product of 30 years of singing lessons. The voice alone is good but nothing special.
Brings tears to the eyes... So glad for him. I hope he can continue staying clean and sober, and that those who are helping him support him in that as well. The whole thing will be for naught if the new job and income spur on old habits. Fingers crossed for his having great things in his future.
Good voice, but better hide the silverware.
Typical ignorance, so you think because he is homeless makes him criminal too? must be another "compassionate conservative"
What a tacky response. Listen to him when he says "And I'm trying hard..." Go on YouTube for the full video. I'm not a bleeding heart by any means but this guy has struck a nerve with a lot of people, not just because of his voice. Think how discouraged he must have been...staying clean for two years and still no opportunities. It's that tone that is resonating with people...someone who made mistakes, cleaned-up his act, and now is struggling to get back on his feet. It could happen to anyone. I say, Best Wishes Ted!!!
It is good to see a guy get a second chance who deserves it, and to still find people that give a darn.
I hope he stays clean and has success in the future. Good luck buddy.
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