Everyone loves a good redemption story. Pulp Fiction? Gran Torino? Heck, even Groundhog Day! But what people love more than a redemption story is a real life redemption story. And there really isn’t a better one than Ted Williams, AKA The Man with the Golden Voice. Back in 2011, Williams was living on the streets of Columbus, Ohio when a video of him doing his radio announcer voice, first posted by the Columbus Dispatch, went viral. He was an almost instant success, garnering serious voice over gigs and TV appearances, making amends with his estranged family, and finally getting a home of his own. But, sadly, Williams’ rough ride wasn’t over.
In the years since he first got his nickname, The Man with the Golden Voice rose to the top, fell almost down to the bottom, then slowly crawled his way back up again. But what has he been up to since? Here is what The Man with the Golden Voice looks like today.
How The Man with the Golden Voice ended up on the streets
Ted Williams, AKA The Man with the Golden Voice, didn’t start out homeless. In fact, Williams worked as a successful radio announcer. As he told the Columbus Dispatch, he fell in love with radio when he was a 14-year-old kid in Brooklyn on a school field trip. Williams spent years “developing” his golden voice, even going to school for radio, as he wanted to be a part of the entertainment world but didn’t think he had the face for TV.
However, then Williams started drinking a fifth of liquor every day, and as he told Today, he “started snorting cocaine and then [he] started smoking it, the crack and all of that.” Williams lost his job and his home in Columbus, Ohio and began bouncing around shelters. He even turned to crime to fuel his drug habit.
However, the video of Williams and his golden voice went viral, garnering millions of views in just one day. It wasn’t long after that job offers started pouring in: announcing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, the National Football League’s film production division, and a few local Ohio news stations.
The Man with the Golden Voice had a rough restart
Though Ted Williams’ life did begin to turn around once his video went viral, it took some time. About one week after his viral success, Williams was arrested in Los Angeles because of a loud argument he had with his estranged daughter, according to E! News. He then appeared on Dr. Phil and told the talk show host that he had an alcohol problem and would be going to rehab (via People). Which he did do, but, as per another report from E! News, Williams only stayed 12 days at the treatment facility before checking himself out. Then, about four months later, Williams’ reps told E! News that he’d be going back to the same facility in Texas, but this time he would stay the full 90 days. And it seems that he kept his word.
But the blows kept on coming. According to the News-Herald, The Cleveland Cavaliers dropped Ted Williams from the announcing job. Williams then went back on Dr. Phil and admitted to the world that he’d lied on his previous episodes about how serious his addictions were.
The Man with the Golden Voice reunited with his mom after 20 years
One of the hardest parts of Ted Williams’ battle with drugs and alcohol was his 20-year long estrangement from his mother. The former radio announcer appeared on Today in 2011 and spoke about his mom and their relationship, often through tears. He described how his greatest wish was for his mom to see him on his feet again. “I always used to pray to God, ‘Lord, let my mom live to see another year,'” he cried. Williams also spoke fondly about how well his mom raised him, saying that her commitment to “The Golden Rule” (treat others as you want them to treat you) was the reason why he held onto his kindness despite living on the streets.
In that same episode of Today, Al Roker read Williams a statement his mother had sent in. “This will be my day to see my son get up and help himself… Let him see that there’s more to life then hanging around with the wrong crowd and taking drugs.” Williams and his mother were reunited just a few days later.
The Man with the Golden Voice wrote a memoir
In 2012, Ted Williams released his memoir titled A Golden Voice: How Faith, Hard Work, and Humility Brought Me from the Streets to Salvation. The book didn’t sugar coat Williams’ life or the poor choices he made while he was under the influence of drugs and alcohol, including when he would “prostitute” his then-girlfriend in order to buy more drugs. The newly minted author went on Today to discuss his book and how his life had been going in the months since he’d previously made headlines. When Matt Lauer asked Williams why he chose to write such an honest memoir, Williams revealed that he never lost hope throughout even his darkest days, perhaps meaning that he wanted to share that message of hope with the world.
Williams also revealed in that interview that, as of the taping, he’d been sober for one full year and had hired a brand new team of “good people” that would have his best interests in mind. Williams also admitted that he still struggled, but is taking things “one day at a time.”
The Man with the Golden Voice was in serious financial trouble
Ted Williams’ troubles were far from over after he got sober. In 2014, almost four years after The Man with the Golden Voice video went viral, Williams sat down for an interview with The Columbus Dispatch. Sadly, in this interview, he revealed that he was dealing with serious money problems. “Financially, I’m a little under the weather,” he said. Williams went on to explain that poor management and trusting the wrong people were behind his financial woes. “A lot of things that I signed early on, in 2011, [I] probably shouldn’t have signed. A lot of people that were involved in my life then shouldn’t have been… I wasn’t focused,” the voice over artist admitted.
What did these people do? Williams alleged that one management company “deprived [him] of residuals,” and another set him up in a nice condo but took a lot of money for it. The Man with the Golden Voice got even more specific, saying that despite signing a book advance worth $375,000, “I own nothing. I don’t even have a car right now.”
The Man with the Golden Voice ran for president
Ted Williams, AKA The Man with the Golden Voice, surprised many people when in 2015, he announced he’d be running in the 2016 presidential election as an independent candidate. Williams first announced his presidential dreams on the Now radio show on WWGH-FM radio in Marion, Ohio, but reaffirmed his election bid in an interview with USA Today. Williams explained that he’d be running his campaign based on veterans’ rights, fighting housing discrimination, bettering the school system, improving the job market, and serving as “a voice for people who are struggling.”
“I was created to create change,” Williams shared. “I want to do it big. Looking at all the other people running, I said why not change things on the highest level.” Brett Witter, the author who helped Williams write his memoir, agreed with the Man with the Golden Voice’s assertion that he was made for something special. “[Ted’s] been in some low places, and he’s known a lot of people who have struggled,” he explained. “That’s definitely a different perspective from other presidential aspirants.”
The Man with the Golden Voice brought back "the joy of Pepsi"
2015 was a busy year for Ted Williams. Not only did he announce his presidential campaign, but he also lent his voice to a big brand’s big commercial. As per AdAge, the Man with the Golden Voice’s iconic pipes were used in Pepsi’s newest version of their “Joy of Pepsi” campaign when, at the beginning of the commercial, he said “Alright everybody, if this doesn’t get your toes tappin’, then check your pulse” (via iSpot.tv).
Additionally, PepsiCo shared that this advertisement was in line with their long-established branding. “The new rendition is reflective of Pepsi’s rich history in pop culture, which has allowed the brand to constantly position itself as a leader within the space and align with the best talent in both sports and entertainment,” they told AdAge.
The advertisement wasn’t just big for Pepsi, it was also big for Williams. This was the first commercial he’d ever done for Pepsi and, considering how widely the video played and the fact that it aired during the Superbowl, he probably made a fair chunk of change (as per NBC News).
The Man with the Golden Voice was almost involved in an alleged drug-smuggling operation
Ted Williams escaped disaster in 2016, when as reported by the Daily Mail, his former manager asked him to be part of an alleged drug smuggling plot. As Williams told the publication, ex-manager Alfred Battle told Williams about a “gig” in Ethiopia, Africa, for which he’d be paid about $10,000 and would be “treated like a king.” Williams ended up being very glad he said no.
According to the Daily Mail, Battle was arrested on his way back from Ethiopia because, as per a release from the U.S. Customs and Border Protection, “Officers noticed that [his] bag was heavier than normal and found that it had a false bottom.” It turned out Battle was allegedly smuggling about $512,000 worth of heroin. “He could have planted some drugs on me,” Williams revealed of his close call. “Maybe I would have been some kind of decoy or distraction.”
Despite the alleged crimes, The Man with the Golden Voice still holds his ex-manager in his thoughts and prayers.”I’m angry and sad at the same time,” he revealed. “I’ll pray for him.”
The Man with the Golden Voice got his own radio show
As he told the Columbus Dispatch, Ted Williams had almost always wanted to work in radio. That’s why, after a long journey of highs and very low lows, Williams was overjoyed to get back on the airwaves in 2016. In an update on his life also done by the Columbus Dispatch, fans learned that The Man with the Golden Voice got a gig co-hosting a radio show on WVKO-AM’s “The Praise” radio station. His show, titled The Golden Voice Show, was a bit talk radio and a bit gospel music.
Interestingly, WVKO was the same Columbus, Ohio radio station where Williams got his first announcer job back in the 1980s. Additionally, this new gig was actually Williams’ very first steady job since 1993. Were his employers nervous about hiring him back because of his checkered past? Not at all. “We teach and preach about giving second chances,” WVKO general manager Mel Griffin told the Columbus Dispatch. “Sometimes we’re given third and fourth and fifth chances.” And Williams wasn’t squandering his extra chances, as he confirmed that he’d been clean since August of 2011.
The Man with the Golden Voice gives back to the homeless community
The Man with the Golden Voice also has a golden heart; Ted Williams is committed to giving back to the homeless community he was once part of. According to an interview with OWN, Williams frequently volunteers at homeless shelters like Friends of the Homeless, which is one he used to frequent. “I was right there at the head of the line, waiting for my handout,” he recalled. “So this is where I have a lot of loyalties now.”
Williams is also helping the homeless in another way: giving out clean socks. “There’s nothing worse than being incarcerated and not having socks, let alone being bothered by the elements,” he told Good News Center. “So I go out and I give packages of socks.”
Additionally, Williams believes that being homeless himself called him to this duty. “I don’t want people to think of me, as I left this earth, that I was a crackhead,” Williams continued. “I want them to see the impact. And I want my grandkids to look on YouTube and see some of the things that their PawPaw was proud of.”
The Man with the Golden Voice has a long-term girlfriend
Ted Williams might not be lucky in most things, but he does seem to be lucky in love. The Man with the Golden Voice has a long-term girlfriend named Kathy — super long-term. According to an interview Williams gave on the Tamron Hall Show, he and Kathy have been together for “over 30 years.” Since the interview was done in 2021, it can be deduced that they’ve been a couple since at least 1991, meaning Kathy has stood by Williams’ side through his struggles with alcohol, drugs, and homelessness. She was also there with him on his viral rise to fame and the subsequent success. Like when, as per a report from Entertainment Tonight, they got a condo together just one short year after the Man With the Golden Voice video came out.
As of this writing, Williams and Kathy are going strong. However, as Williams told Tamron Hall, Kathy did “contract the COVID,” and had to check into a nursing home to recover. But that doesn’t seem to deter their love, as Williams joked, “It’s cheaper to keep her!”
The Man with the Golden Voice has a good relationship with his children
When people think of Ted Williams they might not think “father.” But a father he is! According to Today, Williams is actually father to nine children: two boys and seven girls. And, as per a report from Good News Center, he also has 16 grandkids.
It couldn’t have been easy for Williams’ children to see him living on the streets and in the throes of substance abuse, which is why it makes sense that they had strained relationships. A prime example would be the time Williams was arrested in Los Angeles because he had a heated altercation with one of his daughters (via E! News).
But, like so many other parts of his life, Williams was able to turn things around. In a 2012 appearance on Today, Williams told Matt Lauer: “I just walked my daughter down the aisle on May 4th. Now she’s married and I was able to be a part of that.” Then, in 2021, Williams confirmed the repair held when he explained on the Tamron Hall Show, “My kids and I, we’ve all pretty much gotten ourselves back together.”
The Man with the Golden Voice is homeless again, but still sober
Ted Williams appeared on The Tamron Hall Show in January of 2021, about 10 years after his initial viral video. This interview led to a few sad revelations, including that Williams is once again homeless. “I haven’t had a place to call my own since 2014,” he revealed. The Man with the Golden Voice also listed a few reasons as to his homelessness. “You know the fair housing laws haven’t really been fair to people who have gotten out of prison,” he reasoned. “It’s been a long time — I haven’t been to jail or had any reasons to go to jail since then.” Williams also blamed the COVID-19 pandemic, saying “the COVID situation” has “postponed, not cancelled, a lot of things,” and he hadn’t “made very much of anything as of last year.”
Despite not having a place to call his own, Williams is not out on the streets. He’s living with his “dear friend Mark Henderson,” and is “still hoping things have another turn around.” Williams also confirmed to Hall that he’s still sober and hasn’t had a relapse since 2011.
The Man with the Golden Voice says there are times he wishes he never went viral
From achieving his childhood dream of becoming a radio DJ to losing it all to drugs and homelessness — and then winning it all back just to lose it again — no one can argue that Ted Williams hasn’t lived one heck of a life. But does he regret it? When the Man with the Golden Voice appeared on the Tamron Hall Show in 2021, Hall asked him: “Do you wish that you’d never gone viral?” Williams replied: “At times I do.” Who can blame him? With fame and fortune come a lot of other problems, like the fact that, as he also revealed during that interview, that Williams is once again homeless.”
However, just because Williams might have regrets in dark moments doesn’t mean he’s not grateful. Williams has said again and again how thankful he is for his blessings and how he could never have imagined the way things turned out. Like when he told NBC News, “[When I was homeless], I didn’t think anything of getting a blessing of this magnitude.”
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