As soon as Ted Williams, a panhandler who became an online hit after video of him begging on an Ohio roadside was posted to the Internet, appeared on a local radio show this morning the offers began pouring in -- including a dream job with the Cleveland Cavaliers and a free house.
"The Cleveland Cavaliers just offered me a full-time job and a house! A house! A house!," repeated a stunned Williams, 71, on local radio station WNCI.
A caller to the show who said she represented the Cavs offered Williams, who shot to stardom after local newspaper the Columbus Dispatch on Monday posted video of his perfectly-pitched panhandling, a full-time job doing voiceover work for the team and parent company and a free home in Cleveland.
The Bedford-Stuyvesant, Brooklyn, native trained to be a radio announcer before drugs and alcohol ruined his chances at a career, and he was reduced to begging on the side of a road in Columbus, Ohio, before the newspaper found him.
Local police would refer to Williams as "Radio man," when chasing him from his usual begging spots, where he earned around $30 an hour, Williams said.
"I've been out there about a year; I just didn't know anything like this would ever happen," an overwhelmed Williams said earlier in the show. "There's so many words. I've already been compared to [Scottish singing sensation] Susan Boyle ... I'm just so happy."
Before the Cavs made their bid, the station said a group of credit unions offered Williams a contract worth up to $10,000; a caller claiming to rep MTV expressed interest in having him guest-announce a show; and callers who said they were the voiceover actors behind plugs for "The Simpsons" and "Entertainment Tonight" said they wanted him to compete on their upcoming "America's Next Voice" -- where the prize includes a home studio.
For a man suddenly thrust from an Ohio roadside into the hearts of the world, Williams set his sights low.
"Just to get back to some normalcy and responsibility -- If I can a job, whether it's a twenty-five or even $18,000, I'd be happy," he said. "At least I know God has me where he wants me."