By Chloe Melas, CNN
You might not know his name, but you’ve probably seen his videos.
To his 8 million followers on Instagram and TikTok, Jimmy Darts, 26, shares videos in which he surprises strangers with cash and other gifts.
Born in Minnesota, Darts, whose real name is Jimmy Kellogg, spoke with CNN about his gift for giving.
“I’ve been doing this my whole life, since I was a little kid,” Darts said. “Growing up my parents for Christmas, they’d give us all like $200 and they’d say a hundred is for you and a hundred is to give away to a stranger. So, they really taught us at a young age to kind of give back, help out. Then just this last year, I started filming it.”
His first video to take off featured an encounter Darts had with a man who was experiencing homelessness in Miami.
“He began sharing his story, opening up and I was like, ‘Oh my goodness, this is wild.’ So I just thought to myself and said, ‘Do you have a Cash App by chance?’ And he is like, ‘Yeah, I do.’ I’m like, ‘I’m just gonna put it at the end of this video and see what will happen.’ So I put it at the end of the video and in the next 24 hours over $20,000 came in for him, enough to get him off the street. And I was like, ‘Oh my gosh, like the power of crowdfunding and social media, using it on TikTok to raise money for people is crazy.’ And so that was kind of the first video where I realized the power of the community.”
In his videos, Darts will typically approach random people in a public space and ask them to to play a game or if they can lend some spare change. Sometimes he’s rebuffed, but those who engage are ultimately rewarded.
His gifts generally range between $500 to $1000, though one woman received a car with actor Taylor Lautner in tow.
“Most of the money, I fundraise it. I’ll go live on Instagram and I’ll say ‘Guys, our goal today is to hit a $1000 dollars or $500.’ And as soon as we hit that goal, I say, ‘All right guys, stop sending the money. We hit our goal today.’ Then I go out and give that money away that day,” Darts said. “If I’m traveling and don’t have time to raise money, I’ll just use money from TikTok. I get paid to do different brand deals, so I’ve worked with like Cash App, Walmart, Lyft doing different commercials and those pay pretty good and so with those funds, I’m able to use it for a video or car giveaways and stuff like that.”
In a video from March, Darts is seen asking a man who was grocery shopping if he could have the tie he was wearing. The man immediately took it off and handed it to Darts, who then pulled out a wallet filled with $500. The man initially declined the gift, but became visibly emotional when he called his wife to tell her what happened. A dance party ensued.
Darts has teamed up with entertainment journalist and producer Jason Kennedy to turn his video series into a television show.
“I can’t get into too much detail about this show, but it’s very exciting,” he said.
Also exciting, Darts said, is the generosity he’s seen in others.
“The people in the videos is one thing, then the people watching the videos, that’s a whole other thing,” Darts said, explaining he’s received messages from viewers who have been inspired by him to do their own gifting.
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