The Viral Experience

Mar 10, 2018

We were playing Vandergrift high school. It was the first district game of the year, and it was at their stadium.

In the fourth quarter, we were up 42-35. They ended up scoring a touchdown, so now the score was 42-41. So now, they can kick it and go for one to tie the game, or they can go for two and win it all. You know, it was Vandergrift high school — they have that high mentality — win or lose. They go for two. It’s the last play of the game.

It was a run, we stopped them at the one yard line! Everyone’s going crazy. It’s hype. It’s just energy and craziness, because we were actually predicted to lose the game.

I was one of the last guys to come off the field. This lady comes up to me and says, “Hey, we need someone to interview. Everyone just left, can we interview you?” I was dead tired and just said, “Alright, you can interview me, but first I need some water.” So she went and found some random water bottle on the ground. That’s actually where I got the water bottle in the video.

So anyways, the interview starts. I’m energetic and hype ’cause we just came back and won this game. Then after, I was like man, I killed that. My coach was like, “How’d you do?!” And I just said, “Man, coach I’m ready to see that.”

The Viral Experience - Apollos Hester Post Game Interview

The viral experience begins.

We had played on a Friday, and she posted the video that Sunday around 1 pm.

I was really excited to see it and finally saw it. When I showed my mom, she started jumping up and down. I was like, “Mom, I really like this…” She goes, “I love it.” She’s all excited about me.

Obviously, I wasn’t prepared for what happened next.

It got posted on Twitter around 5-6 pm. Then I see these verified accounts tweeting about it, like you gotta check out this video. Check out this kid who did this speech. 

Then my friend calls me up. He’s like, “Dude, Apollos, that video you did… it has 100,000 views already.” What?! I’m just thinking no way. So I go check it out, and it already had 200,000 views by the time I look at it.

Now I’m thinking what’s going on? So overwhelming. So many people have already seen it, and she just posted this!

Next, I get on Twitter, and my notifications are blowing up.

It’s wild, going crazy.

It was especially crazy going to school the next day. My goodness, people I haven’t talked to in years were coming up to me excited about the video. Even my principal was like, “Apollos, man, that was awesome.” When I went to football practice, someone told me it was already on Good Morning America. I’m getting a bunch of calls from people, and you know, all these things are going on.

It’s starting to get really — really overwhelming — wild and crazy.

Then after school, when I’m going to the gym, I get a call from Northern Los Angeles. When I answer, it’s one of Ellen’s producers telling me they saw my video. They asked me, “How would you like to be on Ellen?” And I’m like, “I would love that. That would be awesome.” So yeah, that was pretty cool.

And it turns out, Steve Harvey had called. Fox & Friends called, and then it was ESPN. I actually went to Austin for ESPN, so that was a crazy experience.

But you know, honestly, it was so overwhelming. I had so much going on. I was trying to focus, and I lost track and focus a bit. But at the same time, the whole viral experience was one of the most humbling experiences I could have had in my life. Honestly, just to know that God used me to help so many people — in such a small way — for his huge plan.

That’s honestly what I’m most grateful for. And sure, it was pretty cool with all the people noticing me in public, like, oh my gosh you’re that guy! But you know what’s really cool, when people come up to me and say, “Apollos, you really helped me out. You really changed my life.” That honestly made me a lot more happy than all the views, and all that other stuff.

Sure, that’s cool, too. I’m not going to sit here and say it’s not. But at the same time, it’s really humbling. It’s just an awesome feeling when someone comes up to you and says, “You changed my life.”

I was getting letters from people who were going to do things that people shouldn’t do. People where were saying, “I was going to kill myself. I was in that position, and I saw your video on the news. It was an answered prayer from the Lord.” People were sending me so much love. So much love.

The whole viral experience, if I could summarize it in one word, it would be love.

Not only the love that I received, but also the love that I could give to others. It’s the love that I’m willing to give, and I’m so glad that it happened, because that’s why I said what I did in the video in the first place. Some people were like, oh he planned that. No, it wasn’t planned. It was genuine, and I just thank the Lord — honestly — for giving me the ability to be a blessing to so many lives.

That was my viral experience.

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