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Viral Video Helps Give Homeless Man A New Chance

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Ted Williams was a homeless man begging for money along the side of the road in Columbus, Ohio. Then a videographer from The Columbus Dispatch shot a video of him and his deep, professional radio announcer voice. The video has now been watched nearly 5 million times, and Williams is fielding offers from ESPN and the Cleveland Cavaliers. NPR's Michele Norris brings us his story.


From NPR News, this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED. I'm Michele Norris.

And here's a hopeful story about a man who's been homeless. At a freeway exit ramp, he held a cardboard sign that read: I have a God-given gift of voice. Fork over a dollar, and he'd share his talent.

Mr. TED WILLIAMS: You're listening to nothing but the best of oldies. You're listening to Magic 98.9.

(Soundbite of laughter)

Mr. WILLIAMS: Thank you so much.

NORRIS: That's the voice of Ted Williams recorded at a stoplight in Columbus, Ohio. The man who took that video is Doral Chenoweth.

Mr. DORAL CHENOWETH: He sounded, you know, better than the NPR News announcers. It seemed like he was really good. And I was taken aback by it, but, yeah, flipped him a dollar and moved on. The light turned green, I had to go.

NORRIS: Chenoweth works for The Columbus Dispatch. That's a newspaper. He posted his video online yesterday, and it went viral. It's been viewed millions of times.

Ted Williams used to work in radio, but he says he started drinking and using drugs. He did time for theft. Still...

Mr. WILLIAMS: I used to always - it just has this inner, like, the Lord didn't take my voice away. You know, I said maybe I can get into ministry or read children's books or narrate something, you know?

NORRIS: Ted Williams was interviewed by WNCI in Columbus today. He says he's been clean for two years. Now, in two days, Williams has gone from unknown pauper to wildly popular. Thanks to that video, he's been summoned to appear on network TV news, and he could land a job.

ESPN, MTV and the Cleveland Cavaliers are all making offers.

Mr. WILLIAMS: And we'll be back with more right after these words.

NORRIS: Good luck, Ted.

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