Man in famed video dies

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES - By Veron­ica Rocha veron­ica. rocha @ latimes. com

A home­less man who was filmed in a YouTube video us­ing a $ 100 gift to buy food for oth­ers has died of chronic al­co­holism, coro­ner’s of­fi­cials said Tues­day.

Kenni Thomas Nickel, 56, died May 28 of chronic al­co­holism and nat­u­ral causes, said Ed Win­ter, coro­ner’s spokesman.

Nickel was the sub­ject of a so­cial experiment, cre­ated by film­maker Josh Lin in De­cem­ber 2014, to test what some­one would do if given $ 100.

The video fea­tur­ing Nickel went vi­ral, get­ting more than 38 mil­lion views. Nickel was hold­ing a sign ask­ing for money on a free­way of­framp in Fuller­ton when he was given $ 100. He en­tered a liquor store and walked out with a bag of gro­ceries, which he shared with oth­ers in need.

Lin said he thought Nickel was “go­ing to buy al­co­hol or some­thing.” Lin, who plays pranks on peo­ple and films their re­ac­tions, of­fered Nickel an apol­ogy.

Nickel be­came home­less af­ter his par­ents died within weeks of each other. Then the condo he shared with them was sold.

“There’s things money can’t buy,” Nickel said in the video. “I get hap­pi­ness out of what I’m do­ing.”

Nickel’s ac­tions tugged at many heart­strings and do­na­tions poured in.

An In­diegogo ac­count raised more than $ 145,000 for Nickel.

But Nickel’s brother, Kevin Nickel, told KCBS- TV Chan­nel 2 that the video was a scam. He said his brother was set to in­herit $ 150,000 from his par­ents’ es­tate and didn’t know about it.

He feared that his brother was be­ing ma­nip­u­lated.

He told the TV sta­tion that the money should “go to peo­ple who re­ally need it.”

In a state­ment, Lin said he was shocked and sad­dened by Nickel’s death.

Nickel, he said, “had a sig­nif­i­cant inf lu­ence for good in oth­ers’ lives.”

“I am truly grate­ful that he touched my heart as well as mil­lions of oth­ers.… I be­lieve he has com­pletely changed my life and the way we look at oth­ers,” Lin said.

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