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Homeless man receives $100... then shocks everyone with how he spends it

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By Randee Dawn

Update, 12/31/14: After a news report alleged that this video was staged, NBC News reached out again to Josh Lin's reps for comment. Lin's lawyer told NBC News that the allegations are false and defamatory. He also provided this statement on behalf of Josh Lin:  "On December 20th, 2014, my videographer and I went out to film a social experiment to find out how a homeless man would spend $100. After driving around Fullerton we came upon Thomas on the side of the 91 highway around 1 o’clock. We then followed Thomas for about 10 minutes before he walked into the liquor store. And then my videographer and I proceeded to follow him for another 45 minutes where he began handing out food to the local homeless people in the park. I then revealed myself and apologized for misjudging him. Once we had finished filming, my videographer and I wanted to get to know him more and took him out to eat at the local Thai food restaurant before we dropped him back off at the homeless shelter. " 

Original story: 

Let's face it: Many of us hesitate to hand money to the homeless, concerned they will spend it in ways we'd consider unwise. 

But one man put that belief to the test ... and his surprising new video showing what happened after he gave a homeless man $100 has already racked up over 10 million views on YouTube.

Josh Paler Lin, whose YouTube channel has more than 711,000 subscribers and usually features pranks, thought he'd try a social experiment: Give a homeless man money, then follow him in secret to see what he'd do with it.

And sure enough, the man's first stop was at a liquor store. He emerged with a bag and took it to a nearby park. Well, what do you expect, right?

Wrong: Once at the park, the man pulled food from the bag and shared it with his fellow homeless.

"My heart was crushed," Lin told TODAY.

After witnessing what the homeless man, whose name is Thomas, did with the cash, Lin approached him on camera and explained that he'd been following him. He apologized and gave Thomas more money.

Thomas said that he'd quit his job to take care of his sick parents, then lost his family home after they died. He said he's been on the street for four months.

Lin decided to take action, setting up a crowdfunding page to raise money to help Thomas get off the streets. Donations thus far have topped $50,000. 

"People think I changed his life," said Lin, who maintains the video was not staged. "For me, it's completely the opposite. I feel that he changed my life."

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