Homeless Viral Video Star Dies: Where's The Money?

Josh Lin says he's offended by the very question. What question? What happened to all the money he raised to help a homeless man named Kenni Thomas Nickel. 

RELATED: How Does A Homeless Man Spend $100?

Let’s start at the beginning of the story. If you watched our news or checked this website last Christmas-time, you no doubt remember the story.  Lin, a self-proclaimed video prankster, posted a video to his popular YouTube channel. In that video, Lin is seen approaching a homeless man, known as Thomas, and giving him $100.

The idea was that Lin's camera person would follow the man and then, presumably, “bust” him for buying booze. Instead, we see the man go into a store and come out with food which he shared with his homeless friends in an Orange County park. People were touched by Thomas’s generosity and the video, as they say, went viral. Despite the good will it generated, Lin was accused of staging it for publicity, which he strongly denied. Lin then began an Indiegogo fundraising campaign, which raised almost $146,000 dollars. The story faded from view, until recently when we learned that sadly, Thomas, a chronic alcoholic, was found dead in a L.A. alley in May. He was just 56.

RELATED: Homeless Man In Viral Video Speaks After Claims It Was ‘Staged’

We caught up with Lin and asked him what happened to the money he raised for Thomas via Indiegogo. In the exclusive interview with FOX 11, Lin told us he “gave it to him on March 11th.” Lin gave us a breakdown of the funds and showed us a wire transfer detailing the money put into a bank account for Thomas.

According to documents provided to use by Lin and his attorney, here is how the $145,872 was paid out. Indiegogo collected about $11,000, its fee for hosting the fundraising campaign. $25,900 was reimbursed to Lin for putting Thomas up in a hotel, feeding, and clothing him for three-and-a-half-months; travel for Thomas’s family who came to Southern California to be reunited with him; plus legal and professional fees Lin says he paid out of pocket. The balance - $108,477 - was transferred to Thomas's bank account. Lin says he's hurt that this has been considered ''controversial'', that people questioned his integrity, even though he's identified, admittedly, as a ''prankster". He says he's saddened by the loss of his new friend and plans to make a new video commemorating his life. The original video shot last December has an impressive 39 million views. 

Copyright 2015 FOX 11 Los Angeles : Download our mobile app for breaking news alerts or to watch FOX 11 News | Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube.

Up Next:


  • Popular

  • Recent

Stories You May Be Interested In – includes Advertiser Stories