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, 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 characterized 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."
Now I just need ESPN to take me from the lowest of lows, this blog (I'm being modest, this blog is awesome), to the highest of highs, espn.com. It's only a matter of time.