A YouTube prankster has taken his acts of charity to a new level, raising enough money to put a roof over the head of a homeless man.
Rahat Hossain is usually pranking drive-through workers or acting out illusions such as walking on water through his "Magic of Rahat" YouTube channel. But in March, the magician staged a prank, which received 15 million views, in which he helped a homeless man cash a fake lottery ticket. The "winning" ticket was part of an elaborate stunt to raise the man's spirits and give him $1,000. Since then, viewers have reached out to Hossain with more donations.
"I got his backstory, and I wanted to hear why he became homeless in the first place," Hossain told Yahoo. "A lot of people vouched for this guy. They said he's an honest guy. He doesn't spend (money) on drugs and alcohol."
The homeless man, Eric, has since appeared in some of Hossain's videos. In the magician's latest piece, Eric is once again the focal point.
"Homeless Man Gets A Home" starts with Hossain recapping the events that have taken place since March. He reveals that he received $44,000 in donations and then breaks down how the money will be used to help Eric.
Then Hossain visits Eric in a motel room, which Hossain paid for out of pocket.
"I wanted to get him off the street. I didn't want to put him in an unsafe position," Hossain said. "I didn't want him to go out to the same spot with people knowing he had $1,000 on him. I said, 'I'm going to get you this hotel room, but what you need to do for me is find a job.'"
And when Hossain arrives at the motel, Eric breaks the news that he just landed a job.
Hossain suggests they celebrate, but he uses the ruse that he first needs to grab something from his house. Instead, the magician brings Eric to a fully furnished home that the newly employed worker can call his own.
"You got to be kidding me right?" Eric repeats in shock when Hossain tells him the house they just entered belongs to him. "Oh my God! Are you serious?"
Of the $44,000 raised, $11,000 will go toward the first year's rent; $12,000 will pay for utilities, clothes, and food; and the remaining $21,000 will sit in a bank account that Eric can access and Hossain will monitor.
"Everybody that helped me out, I thank you from the bottom of my heart," Eric says to the camera, his eyes welling up. "I thank you for sticking with me, and I thank you for believing in me."
"It's been really rewarding," Hossain told us. "I don't really want to take the credit. Without the fundraiser this would not be possible."
Hossain said he will continue to update viewers on Eric's progress on his second YouTube channel, and that his "brother" will have a recurring role in his "Magic of Rahat" pranks.
- Society & Culture