To his 8 million followers on Instagram and TikTok, Jimmy Darts, 26, shares videos in which he surprises strangers with cash and other gifts.
Born in Minnesota, his real name is Jimmy Kellogg, Darts spoke with CNN about the gifted giving.
“I’ve been doing this my whole life, ever since I was a little kid,” Darts said. “My parents grew up on Christmas giving us all like $200 and saying a hundred for you and a hundred to donate to a stranger. So, they really taught us at a young age to give back, help me. Then just last year, I started photographing it.”
His first video clip surfaced of Darts meeting up with a homeless man in Miami.
“He started sharing his story, and he opened up and said, ‘Oh my God, this is barbaric. So I thought to myself and I said, “Do you happen to have a cash app?” And he says, “Yeah, I do.” I’m like, “I’m going to put it at the end of this video and see what happens.” So I put it at the end of the video and the next 24 hours it came Over $20,000 for him, enough to get him off the street.And I was like, ‘Oh my God, like the power of crowdfunding and social media, using him on TikTok to raise money for people is crazy. And this was kind of the first video where I realized the power of community.”
In his videos, Darts usually deals with random people in a public place and asks them to play a game or if they can lend you some extra change. Sometimes it gets rejected, but those who engage in it are eventually rewarded.
His gifts generally range from $500 to $1,000, although one woman received a car with actor Taylor Lautner in tow.
“Most of the money, I make it. I’m going to go live on Instagram and I’m going to say ‘Guys, our goal today is to make $1,000 or $500.’” And once we hit that goal, I say, ‘Okay guys, stop sending money. We hit our goal today.” Then I go out and give that money that day,” Darts said. “If I’m traveling and I don’t have time to raise money, I will only use the money from TikTok. I get paid to make deals for different brands, so I have worked with apps like Cash App, Walmart, Lyft to do different commercials and those that pay well, and with that money, I can Use them to get video or car gifts and things like that.”
In a video clip from March, Darts is seen asking a man who was grocery shopping if he could get the necktie he was wearing. The man immediately pulled it out and handed it to Darts, who then pulled out a wallet full of $500. The man initially refused the gift, but became visibly emotional when he called his wife to tell her what had happened. A dance followed.
Darts teamed up with journalist and entertainment producer Jason Kennedy to turn his video series into a TV show.
“I can’t go into too much detail about this show, but it’s very exciting,” he said.
What was also interesting, Darts said, was the generosity he saw in others.
“The people who are in the videos are one thing, then the people who watch the videos, that is another thing entirely,” Darts said, explaining that he had received messages from viewers who inspired him to give their gifts.