A Stolen iPhone, A New Connection And Minor Celebrity In China Months after Buzzfeed writer Matt Stopera's phone was stolen, new pictures from China started uploading to his photo stream.
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A Stolen iPhone, A New Connection And Minor Celebrity In China

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A Stolen iPhone, A New Connection And Minor Celebrity In China

A Stolen iPhone, A New Connection And Minor Celebrity In China

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KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

Here's a story that might sound familiar. You're out with your friends one night and you lose your phone. You go home, you cross your fingers and hope that some kind soul will find it and return it to you. And then when that doesn't happen, you buy a new phone. For most of us, that's where the story ends, but not for Buzzfeed writer Matt Stopera. Stopera joins us now from our studios in New York. Welcome, Matt.

MATT STOPERA: Thank you.

MCEVERS: OK, Matt, so tell us how this all started. You're out with your friends one night. What happened?

STOPERA: I lost my phone, and it was nowhere to be found. It wasn't anywhere in the bar, and whenever I was calling the phone it went straight to voicemail, so I was like, this phone - it's probably stolen.

MCEVERS: Right.

STOPERA: So then I buy a new phone, and everything's fine for a year. And then a year passes, and these pictures start showing up on my phone, and I didn't take any of these pictures. It's kind of some man in an orange tree, pictures of fireworks, pictures of people riding, like, motorcycles. And it looks like China.

MCEVERS: OK, and so, how was this happening? I mean, what was going on?

STOPERA: My cloud was still connected on my own old stolen phone. So whenever this man took pictures on my phone, it showed up on my new phone. And it's crazy. I mean, just even the idea of my phone being lost in an East Village bar and ending up on the other side of the world is just mind-blowing to me. So then I wrote the story on Buzzfeed about kind of everything that was happening and someone in China translated it and put it on Weibo, which is Chinese Twitter basically.

MCEVERS: Right.

STOPERA: It went insane from there.

MCEVERS: So it's on Chinese Twitter. Like, how many people were talking about this story, and what were they saying?

STOPERA: As of right now, 45 million people have read the story, and they thought it was hysterical. They named the man Brother Orange.

MCEVERS: Because he was standing next to orange trees in the pictures.

STOPERA: Exactly.

(LAUGHTER)

MCEVERS: Of course.

STOPERA: So I kind of essentially became a meme on Chinese Twitter, and they're kind of expecting me and Brother Orange to reunite. And they think that it's a very romantic story.

MCEVERS: Wait. OK, so people in China basically try to find the guy, right? Can you tell us about that?

STOPERA: They all were messaging me saying, Matt, we're trying to help you, we found out where he lived already, but we're still trying to find him. So then they found the man and his nephew got him to make an account on the site, and basically it's because of the nephew that now Brother Orange is on, you know, Chinese Twitter and we're connecting. And basically right now it's like the Chinese New Year holiday, so I'm also getting a lot of messages on Weibo and on Twitter from Chinese people saying that it's a miracle and it's such a nice feel-good story for the spring festival. But also we're trying to coordinate now this meet-up.

MCEVERS: Woah. So wait - you're going to go there?

STOPERA: I am going to China. It's official.

MCEVERS: Well, Matt Stopera, writer for Buzzfeed, thank you so much for sharing your story with us.

STOPERA: Thank you.

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