A Chinese internet celebrity who was said to be a vagrant roaming the streets for more than 20 years wanted to buy a house in Shanghai after making money from live-streaming videos.
Shen Wei, nicknamed the “Vagrant Professor,” said he was able to earn 100,000 yuan (US$14,430) a month after starting his live-streaming program, Qianjiang Evening News reported.
Shen now has 900,000 fans on his Kuaishou account, one of China’s hottest video-sharing and live-streaming apps backed by Tencent.
The 52-year-old man, who was born and raised in Shanghai, shot to sudden fame after a video went viral on Chinese social media in March. It showed him quoting Confucius and discussing the merits of the 16th-century work Liao Fan’s Four Lessons, which seemed to surprise many people.
The video received millions of views in a few days. Foreign media outlets such as the BBC and Washington Post also reported on his sudden rise of fame.
Thousands of people searched for him to take a selfie or a video with him. Soon, fans from all over China wanted to meet with him or invited him to their provinces for a visit.
In recent months, Shen went to Guangzhou, Xinjiang, Chengdu and Hangzhou to meet with “fans”. Most of the time, he was surrounded by fans who also live-streamed their meeting with Shen while the celebrity discussed paintings, books or philosophy.
One of his fans said his own live-streaming program on Shen helped attract 3,000 others who followed the ‘professor’. However, the so-called “fan” did not understand what Shen was saying about art and philosophy.
Shen started his own live-stream program with a one-hour show every night since the end of April. He said he once had 20,000 views a night.
Most Chinese celebrities make money directly from viewers in the forms of “tips”.
“I feel like I’m a high-end vagrant as I get ‘tips’ from my fans,” Shen said.
Being a live-streaming KOL – key opinion leader – for three months, Shen’s quiet life now seems over but he said he wanted it back.
“I wanted to buy a house in Shanghai for my books and I want to have a family and get back to a normal life.”