STUDIO CITY (CBSLA.com) — Two men seen in a YouTube video that showed a homeless man buying food for friends with $100 refuted claims Friday that the act of kindness was merely a hoax.
YouTube personality Josh Paler Lin gave the transient named Kenneth Thomas Nickel the money as a so-called social experiment.
A camera then captured Nickel going into a liquor store and buying food he then handed out to other people at a park.
That video was uploaded to YouTube, where it has received nearly 30 million views.
“It’s kind of a shame that all of a sudden he did something where my life improved and now all of a sudden, his life is kinda getting messed up,” Nickel, the cash recipient, told CBS2’s Jeff Nguyen Friday.
That’s because a man, who claims he witnessed what happened, said it was staged.
“I was there. They didn’t ‘follow him.’ They drove him there,” Taugan Kadalim alleged.
On Friday, Lin countered, stating: “I just think he’s a hater. Haters gonna hate.”
“The only reason he would see us together in the car would be after we filmed it,” Lin added.
Adding to the controversy, Nickel’s brother reached out to CBS2, saying Nickel chooses to live on the street despite an inheritance from their mother and stepfather.
“So he’s sitting on, right now, like $150,000 in the estate,” his brother said.
But Nickel says, “His premise is this, ‘The condo is left in my name.’ However, it’s probably going to have to be sold to pay off debts.”
An online fundraising effort has brought in more than $100,000 to help Nickel whom CBS2 has learned has an allegedly lengthy arrest record in Orange County.
The donation drive closes on Jan. 21, and Lin says the funds will go to Nickel who said he plans to donate a significant portion to three homeless shelters.
In the meantime, both men are seeking legal action to prevent anyone from making a negative comment about the video.