The man who discovered Ted Williams says 'it's probably easier getting through to Obama [now] than Ted'

Doral-ChenowethImage Credit: Peter Kramer/MSNBC/NBC Newswire via AP ImagesThough Ted Williams, the golden-voiced homeless man from Columbus, Ohio, seems like the quintessential rags-to-riches story for our Internet age, it didn’t happen overnight. Doral Chenoweth, the 47-year-old web producer for the Columbus Dispatch who filmed Williams, actually shot those life-changing 97 seconds of film approximately eight weeks ago. He’d first encountered Williams, his cardboard sign, and his baritone pipes a few weeks before that when he and his wife were driving past on their way to the store. “He just let loose with that velvety, old-school voice,” Chenoweth tells EW. “We had a good time, but you know, life goes on. The light turns green. I threw him a dollar and off we went.”

About a week later, though, Chenoweth, who’s worked for Dispatch for 20 years and calls himself a modern-day backpack journalist, endured a slow news day and needed something — anything — to shoot. He found Williams at the same corner, and this time when he said, ‘Say something with that great radio voice,” he had his FlipCam rolling. “It was so touching,” recalls Chenoweth. “I thought it was sweet.”

But Chenoweth had no clue he had gold. He felt the video’s ending was awkward and the clip ran a little too long. So he sat on the footage for weeks. Then, on Monday, when he needed something fresh, he dug up the video on his computer and popped in on to the paper’s website. And… nothing special. “It kind of did an average number of hits for a video on our website on a Monday,” says Chenoweth. “But Tuesday, some guy from Ohio State calls me out of the blue and says, ‘Your video is about to go viral.’ By Tuesday night, it was skyrocketing. And Wednesday was just a media frenzy.”

Chenoweth has spent the last few days witnessing Williams’ surreal ride from homelessness to mega-stardom. “It’s probably easier getting through to Obama [now] than Ted,” he jokes, adding that Williams is handling the transformation “like you might expect. He’s kind of excited, frazzled, but sharp all at the same time.”

About to fly home after a whirlwind trip to New York City, Chenoweth was reflective, hopeful for Williams, and still amazed by the events. “Maybe if I had released the video the week before Christmas, it never would’ve gained any traction in the national media,” he points out. “God’s in control of everything and God’s in control of this video. Ted’s got a real good outlook on it and so do I.”

More on Williams:
Ted Williams on ‘Today': ‘This is a dream come true’
The world listens in awe to a homeless Ohio man

Comments (260 total) Add your comment
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  • Jaded

    Awesome story! I love the Columbus Dispatch–best paper in the country!

    • yes

      I cried when I watched a video about this on another website! Very beautiful story!

      • Jeremiah Hall

        Praise the Lord for such a gift of Love.

      • Sunny

        I am 50 years old and here are the most emotional T.V. moments I’ve had: 1.Sept.11 2.Chilean miner rescue 3.First Space Shuttle explosion 4.TED WILLIAMS REDEMPTIVE STORY 5.1980 “Miracle on Ice” Olympic hockey team :)

      • Chris

        I did too. I watched the video at least a hundred times and the story is just so sobering and close to home since I too have been homeless. Never a addict to drugs but shared my days under a tree or bush. I wish Ted Williams nothing but the best. And the one thing aside from hearing more of Ted’s voice and that would be if he wrote a book.

      • GG

        Yeah, now they’ll get the back child support he owes.
        Never mind that somebody had to raise all those kids along.

    • Michael

      The Columbus Dispatch is awful.

  • Larry

    Great story, but I could have done without the god talk at the end.

    • dcowan

      That God talk is on your currency

      • Anonymous

        It shouldn’t be.

      • TClarend

        Before the 1950’s there was no mention of a deity on the US currency. It must have been a McCarthy thing?

      • Micks

        It doesn’t appear on my currency. I mark it out with a black magic marker.

      • Joe

        ^Win lol

      • Katja

        I count myself as a believer, and I agree – it shouldn’t be on our currency. That doesn’t mean that people shouldn’t talk about God at all when they are being interviewed and representing only themselves. God just doesn’t belong on our money.

    • Heather

      I don’t get why it bothers people when someone talks about God. If thats what he believes in that’s what he believes in. Come on and get over it! Sheesh!

      • lefty

        and by god, force it down everyone else’s throats!

      • harry

        Amen!

      • Heather

        No one is “forcing”. That is totally your view.

      • Katja

        Agreed, Heather. He mentioned God in one sentence out of the entire interview. He wasn’t proselytizing; he simply expressed gratitude very briefly and that was it. People (atheists AND believers) can be way too sensitive when it comes to talk of God. Live and let live.

      • Hershey Kisses

        @ lefty – “and by god, force it down everyone else’s throats”

        And what do you think about your comment being forced down our throats? Glass houses buddy!

      • anonymous

        Geez, guys, can’t you recognize a troll when you see one? Somebody needs a copy of “Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.”

      • Shatima

        I don’t c what the problem is. GOD is a blessing and GOD not only blessed him but he blesses all of us EVERYDAY!!!!!!!!!!! I 4 one will NEVER b ashame of letting everyone know what My GOD does/doing 4 me. Mr.Williams is dont right, it’s a reason he is now on top. And he letting everyone know it’s GOD.. And if u reply to this watch what you say, cause I’m covered by My father upstairs!

    • Jason

      Really? You’re that offended by someone offering up their personal opinion on God? If someone wants to find God in the random chaos of daily life, you don’t have to take a leak on it. He could have said “God” or “the universe” or “fate” or “sh*t happens”. We all have our way of living.

      • Jack

        Just because someone makes a comment doesn’t mean they are “offended” all the time. I too think it was pointless throwing out such a dumb comment at the end. I’m sure some people believe everything that happens is controlled by some super being, but it is a little far fetched in this day and age to believe in such a being I’d have thought. But offended? Nah.

      • Sam Spade

        Yeah but if some of us said “the Goddess helped me” or “Thanks be to Hecate” or “I’m a witch”, all the Christians get militant and want to burn someone at the stake.

      • K

        LOL @ Sam Spade. You are generalizing. Most of the Christians really wouldn’t get militant. You’re judging by the idiots that show up on TV because they’re screeching about blasphemy or whatever…but most of us really wouldn’t care. I used to be good friends with a witch, until she moved away and we lost contact (this was pre-Facebook and all that). She was a lovely person. Anyways, I’m the kind of person who thinks that if people are worshipping anything at all (in the name of peace, love, goodwill, etc etc), it all points in the same direction in the end. I have debated hilariously aggressive but well-intentioned college Christians who wanted to convert me to a stricter and more judgmental version of Christianity on this topic….it was super fun because they got totally flustered, and everyone I know, Christians included, basically gave me a “good for you” when I told them about it.

    • lefty

      Larry simply said he could have done without the god talk at the end. And now everyone is saying they can’t stand to hear his “atheist talk.” What’s the difference? He doesn’t want to hear about god, and you all don’t want to hear about someone not wanting to hear about god. He has a right to say his opinion, just as you are saying Chenoweth has a right to bring up god…

      • Joseph

        Good point, im an atheist myself, but i do thinks its a bit silly really, i mean if god was there why would he have letten his life get so bad in the first place and theres more people that are homeless than just this guy, so yeah its kinda stupid to be uproaring about how “hey look god does exist , look what happened to this 1 man” lol, everyone always throws the credit to god for good things, but never for when things to worse. i say the real credit goes to the guy who got him on video.

      • Nekesha

        Joseph, for there to be a testimony there has to be a test. And what Ted went through was a test. You said the real credit should go to the man who got him on video, well the man who did is giving the glory to God. If ted and the guy that did this video (and myself) believes in God, and thinks He has a hand in it, why the hoopla?.. who are you to tell them otherwise?..

      • hf

        Going by that line of reasoning, if somebody said that their good fortune was the result of their belief in GooGah the talking squirrel, should I respect that opinion too?
        You can believe whichever imaginary character controls your life, but that doesn’t mean I have to respect it, or not point out how absurd it is.

      • KFed

        I also love that no matter what terrible situation you find yourself in that you’d think the mighty GooGah would save you from, this can be explained away as a “test”. It’s a test that it appears he doesn’t exist! You should have faith that the squirrel can talk!

      • @Joseph

        So you think God should control and run people’s lives then? Rather than giving us free will and a brain to make good or bad decisions for ourselves? And what about the concept that God gives us the ability to help others in need but we decide not to. Sorry, that’s on us, not God. And there’s the problem: that pesky free will again.

      • Pablo

        re:free will. if god is omniscent, then he knows in advance how we will conduct ourselves. he can’t be wrong, so our will can’t be “free”.

      • Lindsey

        Just to help out to the question that if God was real how would he have let him get in that situation in the first place…

        God gave us free will to make our own decisions. He isn’t going to force anyone to do anything. When our lives are in a bad spot it is the result of sin and the things we have chosen. He is there to help us but most of the time we have to choose that.

        I don’t know how people can’t believe in God these days. Working as a missionary in the trenches of Haiti I have seen God work in ways that no one could ever explain outside the work of a divine Creator. I see it everywhere. I have a science background and all I can do is shake my head when people say science doesn’t support God. An atheist named Lee Strobel went to write a book to disprove a Creator. It’s named “A Case for Christ”, it made for very good reading.

      • Katja

        lefty, I agree that the person can complain about hearing “God talk” if they want…it just struck me as odd considering he only mentioned God in one sentence out of the entire interview, and he wasn’t out to convert anybody. It just seemed a little overly sensitive to me to actually go ahead and comment on it because it was so minimal, but you’re right, it’s perfectly fine if people didn’t care for that particular sentence.

      • david Harrison

        Then larry doesn’t have to listen. Simply as that.

      • Walden

        Or he can listen and comment if he likes, as is his right.

    • Jaded

      “All that God talk”???? Seriously? He mentioned God in ONE sentence. Are you that unsure of your own beliefs that you can’t hear one sentence expressing a different belief?

      • lefty

        “Great story, but I could have done without the god talk at the end.”

      • Phil

        Jaded, I cannot believe you are associating with known Atheists. You should go to church and be cleansed.

      • MCS

        Are you that unsure of your own beliefs that you can’t hear one sentence expressing a different belief? Atheism is a belief.

      • meg

        @MCS Atheism is certainly not a belief. It is based on evidence or lack of it, as in the case of religion.

      • sam

        Interesting, that so much discussion, is the result of one mention of the word God, that it has reached so many.

    • Mikey

      Right on, Lefty. Keep god’s ass out of it.god doesn’t exist anyway.

      • LIVEWELL

        Mikey, Mikey—- What can I say— Be not deceived,God will not be mocked.Whatsoever a man soweth ,that will he also reap.Don’t ever forget that!!

    • Graydon

      and what buisnesss is it of yours weather or not someone hopes that another prospers under a great deity? i believe he has every right to give his blessings and wish for the benefit of all mankind. weather you believe in god or not why should you be putting down the cherished beliefs of the poor and the destitute

      • lefty

        No one put down his beliefs.

      • Mikey

        Graydon, I think you miss the point here. It’s not about prospering under a great deity; it’s not about giving blessings; and it’s not about putting down the poor and the destitute in any way at all.
        I think the atheists among us will agree that it is about cleansing the planet of this god-awful nonsense, this extension of childhood fairy-tales, the ideology of ‘fatherdom’ a man in charge.

    • Carmen SanDiego

      I could have done without the god talk at the end too

      • caramia

        Hey Carmen! Where in the world have you been?

    • kasia

      I think the way ted spoke about G-d was very personal and respectful. It’s his story after all so he wanted to express what he was feeling and why he thought he is where he is today. . He acknowledged that it was his own personal belief and not some attempt at proselytizing. Come on people, enjoy the story and stop worrying about what he did or didn’t say, whether or not you share in the same beliefs.

      • K

        I agree with you, kasia.

    • Ellen

      And we could have done without your comment. This is a wonderful thing that is happening to this man. You should be so lucky!

    • sg

      Get over yourself.

    • Evil Melvin!!

      I guess moronic, idiotic freaks like you and Micks would prefer “Cause In Satan’s Nuts We Lick And Trust!”.

    • Karl

      Free speech. It goes both ways.

    • Realist

      If people want to be good people because “God” says so when they wouldn’t otherwise, I let them… Just like I let my employees continue to believe that hard work and doing their part will pay off for them. Most people are weak, need to be lead and told what to do. Thank “God” for that!

    • Man

      If you are on an airplane and it’s about to crash, guess what’s the first word that would come out of your mouth.

      • Joe

        Probably “s*h*i*t!”

      • OhCr@p

        First you say it, then you do it.
        -Bill Cosby

    • lukebandit

      Don’t like God talk? Believe me you will have a long talk with God on Judgment Day and so will kate gosselin.

    • GG

      He should have thanked his ex wife for raising the kids… and whoever else was a mother to his nine….while he was out being drugged up for 20 years.
      NOT A HERO, FOLKS

      • Jen

        No one claims this man is a hero. Clearly he has been down on his luck for a long time. Now he gets a second chance that’s all.

    • LIVEWELL

      you may be willing to do without the God talk at the end of this wonderful story, but how willing will you be at the real “end”(of your life, that is)?

    • Danny

      Larry, It’s through God that all things are possible. This man was not ashamed of that fact.

    • Luna Rios

      Respecting others beliefs is more important than the beliefs themselves. If you can’t learn to respect others, you don’t deserve respect yourself. Respect isn’t an entitlement. It’s a privelege. You get back what you give.

  • dcowan

    This is a great success story.
    God Bless America!

    • KMclaren

      Are we in Pakistan or something?

      • Mikey

        I don’t know where you are, Sunshine, Does it matter?

    • GG

      SUCCESS? UNEMPLOYED DRUGGIE. gets a break after abandoning all nine of his kids. He’d better thank God and his ex wife (wives?) and the tax payers who paid his child support while he partied. THIS GUY WAS A BIG TIME DROP OUT!

      • Neil Hairston

        With all the people in the world with a alcohol and drug problem why hate on this man? I believe in God and with God all things are possible.

  • Carol Bosquez

    Mr. Williams I hope you see this. I wish you all the best that God has to offer. I myself would go with the offer from Oprah. It would be a great job. I would love to see you write a book about the journey you took to get to the point you are now.

  • Jason

    “could have done without the god talk at the end”, why do without this, this has God written all over this, ATHEIST!

    • Chenzo

      I have no problem with anyone expressing their beliefs . . . but “God” is a fantasy my friend.

      • Nekesha

        Then if you have no problem, leave him let him talk about his belief!!

      • Abraham

        Nekesha, it’s like writing a story about someone winning the lottery and then saying it was Gods will. It’s just silly.

      • Karl

        You’re entitled to you opinion, just as he is.

        What a great country we get to share with one another…

      • Evil Melvin!!

        Chenzo is latin for Satan’s Testicle Licker!

      • Kelley

        It’s a fantasy to deny the existence of God.

      • anonymous

        The point is that Ted is a born again Christian. He is on the right path, his path, his journey.

      • LIVEWELL

        CHINZO, I am sorry that you feel this way. I can see how at times that you may have developed this belief but the way that I look at it is that I would rather live my life as a believer and find out in the end that it was all a fairy tale, than to live my life as an unbeliever and in the end find out that it was all true.May you find the truth. God bless you!!

      • Walden

        LIVEWELL

    • Jeremy

      Nah. I’m an evangelical Atheist. God didn’t make Ted Williams famous. YouTube did. Ted trained to use his voice at an early age. he was in the right place at the right time. And his belief in God certainly helped him. But that does not mean God exists. God is nowhere to be found here…just goof humans acting kindly.

      • Challe Brown

        The fact that you (continually) capitalized the word God let’s me know that you KNOW He exists. Enough said.

    • Jeremy

      I agree with Larry. There’s no need to invoke God when natural explanations suffice. It’s great this person’s turning his life around, but remember there’s plenty of Muslims, Jews, Buhddists, and Hindus who claim that their god(s) helped them out of a hole too. They can’t all be right…but they can sure all be wrong.

      • Evil Melvin!!

        “but remember there’s plenty of Muslims, Jews, Buhddists, and Hindus who claim that their god(s) helped them out of a hole too. They can’t all be right…but they can sure all be wrong.” – Jeremy….This is perhaps the STUPIDEST thing ever written on this board. Please STFU!!!!

      • Betsy

        How is that stupid? Obviously, not every religious denomination can be right, that’s just common sense. If there really is a god, and a particular religion was right, then that makes all the others wrong. I mean, it’s just common sense Melvin…you’re weird.

      • Britney

        Betsy,
        Evil Melvin? Just ignore him. He’s only a rude boy, a retard, a sad toss-pot. You’ll notice he offers no ideas of his own. The nearest he gets to an original thought is to feel the need to defecate – and that only happens on the good days!
        Jeremy’s point is that there is no god and so all religions are wrong.
        Jeremy is correct.

      • K

        Betsy – some of us believe that it doesn’t matter in the slightest what religion or denomination a person is. It’s just a way to express your gratitude for what you have, and whatever force might be out there doesn’t give a crap whether you break your eggs on the big end or the little end, whether you’re Shia or Sunni, Catholic or Jewish, Hindu or Pagan.

      • Betsy

        Well K, even if you are right about that interpretation of god, that would still mean that billions of others are wrong. I think that’s what Jeremy was saying. Everyone fervantly believes that their their religious belief system is the gospel truth, and that just isn’t possible.

  • Tye-Grr

    I seriously LOVE this story. Awesome.

  • Ruff

    Larry…..you are a donkey

  • Ruff

    Good luck Ted!!!

  • Samsara

    Anyone see that movie, “Hero” with Andy Garcia & Geena Davis? I worry that too much will be thrown to Ted by too many opportunists without his best interest at heart. I’d hate to see this poor guy get overwhelmed by it all and have it all backfire on him. Let’s hope he surrounds himself by good people. Because from the sounds of things he really doesn’t have family and that in itself will take a while to repair. I wish him luck.

    • lefty

      He has 9 children as well as an addiction to alcohol. His kids tried to help him during his spiral downward but finally couldn’t take anymore. Hopefully…all of this money and excess he receives doesn’t drive him back to drinking. That’s what I’m more worried about (there’s always a reason they’re homeless in the first place…). All the best to him though!

    • Nekesha

      Amen to that!!

    • anne

      I agree, Samsara. He seems like such a good man, but this is a huge and sudden change. I don’t know how I would handle it. there is a lot of good will out there for him. I hope some of those people of good will will be a support network for him and help him deal with this until he adjusts. He has a beautiful voice. I’ll be watching for that Mac and Cheese commercial and wishing him well.

  • Ro Kwauk

    God bless them both. Beautiful story.

    • janet

      Wow. What a story. I am been following this story since heard about it on our local radio station. I have oftened wondered when I see some homeless on the side of the road asking for help of how they got there. You don’t whether to help and wonder if you give them money what they would do with it. But this case has touched my heart and has given me a different outlook on the

    • janet

      Wow. What a story. I am been following this story since heard about it on our local radio station. I have oftened wondered when I see some homeless on the side of the road asking for help of how they got there. You don’t whether to help and wonder if you them money what they would do with it. But this case has touched my heart and has given me a different perspective on the homeless. Ted Williams has been blessed and should also be thanking you too. God always puts people in our paths for a reason. Gods hand is definitely in the. May God bless you.

  • God

    Hey I’m real…just kidding…roll Tide.

    • lefty

      LOLz

    • CamNewtonFAN

      WAR CAM EAGLE!!!

    • Katja

      LOL I disgree with your point there, “God”…but the “roll Tide” part was pretty awesome.

    • sassyfras

      Roll Tide?? Dude, You know You made the sky Carolina Blue.

  • Arnel

    I am one of the millions that wish something good happens to you the first we saw your video. God heard us.

  • God

    I didn’t hear anything, how arrogant think I care about you!

    • Elizabeth

      God Bless you Ted and God Bless Mr. Chenoweth. God is a God of mercy and forgiveness who loves all mankind even those who say he is only “fantasy”. God Bless America!

  • God

    And fries of course maybe a frosty…I’m meeting the Easter bunny after for martinis.

    • SPH

      I’ve always believed in intelligent design but after seeing your post I no longer believe that.

  • momakaos

    The voice led to the reentry of this man to society and “God” or a higher power should not threaten others in a news story. Seeing someone mention their faith does not disturb me unless it is in a speel about how”God condemns other for their lifestyle type of preaching” God, contrary to some people’s opinions love all …gay, straight,pink, purple or whomever you are..so Mr. Williams has a God given voice that can smooth out rough wallpaper…………accept he is a new man and move on, do not spend your time criticizingly the messenger..but rather know you too may be in his shoes one day..and you too may need a helping hand like he did!!!!!!

    • rick

      Yes, it’s true God loves all. But he will still send sinners to eternal damnation on judgement day. Including those that excused the sinful behavior. There will be a lot of surprised people come the rapture.

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