By Jonathan Chow and Shayne Zhang
Who knew that there was enough good will on the Chinese internet to help a beggar afford an automobile? Meet Wang Hao (王昊). By day, he’s a mild-mannered, Shanghainese office worker, but upon logging onto the web by night, he becomes Gloomy Hao (郁闷昊), the world’s most powerful online beggar.
In February 2009, Wang Hao set out on a mission to “raise money” from fellow netizens to buy a car. Recently, on July 18, he was finally able to afford his beggarmobile. How did he do it?
It turns out that before Gloomy Hao had even begun his plan to score a sweet ride, he had already earned himself a bit of notoriety on Chinese internet forums and was able to utilize his fame to publicize his most daring deed yet.
Last summer, Gloomy Hao began generating buzz for himself when he posted an article on “how to live reasonably well in Shanghai on only 100 yuan a week,” amid the beginning of the global economic downturn. The article exploded in popularity, so much so that by the time he revealed his car-fund scheme, he had developed a sizable internet following and announced “if each person gives me 1 yuan, I’ll contribute 100,000 yuan to expanding domestic demand” to stimulate the economy… apparently, in the automobile sector.
Since then his internet notoriety has only increased and netizens have even nicknamed him “the most powerful online beggar” and “the most sincere conman.”
Wang Hao, however, doesn’t consider his actions to be “begging” or in the least bit unethical. He began his campaign by posting a meticulous plan-of-action online for the public to see. He even listed his sponsors, posted updates monitoring the progress of the “fund-raising,” and allowed sponsors to vote for which car he should buy. In the end he raised 18,198.2 yuan which aided him in purchasing a car worth 115,800 yuan. Sure, it’s only 15% leverage, but it’s still a huge amount of money to be contributed by strangers.
When interviewed by Beijing Youth Daily about why strangers would possibly give him money to buy a car, Wang replied “Who knows? Perhaps they do.”
Let’s face it, beggars are annoying. They’re methods are often invasive, guilt-trippy, and you never really know where the money is going. So there’s something refreshing to see someone asking for money who happens to be pretty chill, kinda creative, and totally honest about what he’s using your money for, even if its going toward his 115,800 yuan car fund.