Homeless NYC man’s viral ‘Joe Byron’ scores him home, fame

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It’s the mispronunciation heard ’round the world.

A homeless Coney Island man’s “President Joe Byron” riff went viral, caught the attention of President Joe Biden along with major celebrities on TikTok. It spurred a GoFundMe campaign that has raised $36,000 and purportedly found him a place to live.

The middle-aged, often-shirtless and partially toothless “TJ” originally became TikTok famous thanks to the popular web show Sidetalk.

In an interview with Coney Island rapper NEMS, he yells into a microphone about President “Byron.” TJ gives himself the title of “Boardwalk King” in the TikTok and spontaneously breakdances in multiple clips.

Riffs on TJ's mispronunciation have included a video featuring the Jonas Brothers.
Riffs on TJ’s mispronunciation have included a video featuring the Jonas Brothers.
Crooner John Legend also penned a parody inspired by TJ.
Crooner John Legend also penned a parody inspired by TJ.

The videos caught the attention of millions, including President Joe Biden on Friday. Biden, in a TikTok clip, pretends to film the Jonas Brothers as they reenact TJ’s interview with NEMS.

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“Did we get it,” the brothers ask after filming the TikTok.

“We got it,” Biden exclaims while holding a smartphone.

Music star John Legend also penned a musical parody to TJ’s remarks.

“What do you want to tell Joe Byron right now? What’s up, baby, take me out to dinner. Ayo. Ayo,” the musician croons in front of his piano.

TJ’s voice later made a cameo appearance in a star-studded TikTok with over 47 million views. The video features music stars Lil Nas X, Olivia Rodrigo, Jack Harlow and Normani dressed to the nines and mouthing along to TJ’s interview with NEMS.

Other celebs like Tinashe, Charlie Puth and Cara Delevingne have also dubbed TJ’s voice over their videos.

The attention morphed into a campaign where TJ’s fans began donating to help him get “out the streets.” The GoFundMe effort, run by fellow TikToker Zoë McCreary, has raised more than $36,000.

President Biden in the Jonas Brothers' video.
The Jonas Brothers’ video featured a cameo from President Biden.

The money has been sent to a relative of McCreary — Rodney McCreary — on TJ’s behalf, according to a GoFundMe spokesperson.

TJ, in a new TikTok video filmed by a fan, is seen driving a shiny new Camaro.

TJ, in another TikTok, seems to confirm he’s now “off the streets” due to fan support.

“I love you … I needed to get off the street and thanks to you people, woo,” TJ said as he jangled keys in the clip.

In videos McCreary posted on her TikTok page, TJ said he is grateful for the campaign. He even recently went bowling, shopped for a suit and got a haircut with his benefactor. Other videos show him shopping in SoHo.

TJ and McCreary did not respond to requests for comment.

“I never thought a dumb idiot like me would be this popular,” TJ told his fans in one video. “But I’m not the popular one, you guys are.”

He does hope for a White House invite and claims he will give President Biden “a big ‘ol kiss” in the Oval Office.

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