Sometimes going viral comes with major benefits — especially for this airport piano player.
According to CNN, Tonee “Valentine” Carter has been known to take visitors on a musical journey thanks to the sounds he provides on a piano at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport.
The 66-year-old is used to capturing the attention of the travelers in the busy Atlanta airport, but this one traveler, in particular, was absolutely mesmerized by the musician.
Carlos Whittaker is a motivational speaker who was traveling home to Tennesse on Wednesday morning after a speaking engagement was canceled.
“I was super bummed that morning and had to reroute to Atlanta,” said Whittaker in an interview with CNN. “As I was walking through the concourse, I heard someone playing the piano, and I just had to walk by them. There was Tonee, going down and going to town and I knew I just had to stay there.”
Staying there is what Whittaker did indeed as he sat at the piano bar in Concourse A for a little over an hour and a half.
Not only is Whittaker a motivational speaker, but the 46-year-old is also an author, podcaster, and Instagram influencer. He was so blown away by Carter’s performance that he used his phone to record videos to share with his thousands of followers on the gram.
As the performance went on, the two men began to talk and get to know one another, before Whittaker came up with a brilliant idea — to bless Carter with the biggest tip he’s ever received.
“Suddenly I was like, what would happen if I asked my Instagram followers if we could give him the biggest tip he’s ever gotten,” Whittaker continued. “Within 30 minutes, we had raised $10,000.”
Whittaker not only summoned his followers to help raise tips for Carter, but he also captured the moment in which he told the musician what had transpired.
“I just lost it. I thought he was kidding. I just couldn’t believe it. That just doesn’t happen,” said the airport piano player. “I didn’t know how to feel. This is the kind of thing I do. I love giving and donating and helping people, but I never expected someone to do it for me.”
Upon boarding his plane, Whittaker shared Carter’s Venmo and CashApp handles with his followers so that they could continue to send him tips.
“By the time I landed in Nashville, it was $20,000. And by the time I interviewed him for my podcast that night, it was $44,000,” shared Whittaker. “And as of this conversation, it’s at $61,000.”
That was on Friday evening, so who knows how much more Carter has received in tips.
What a thoughtful gesture and reminder that you never know who’s watching!