Bill Horne, a native and longtime resident of Pinehurst, Georgia, told me something several years ago that I found amusing enough to remember. He had once asked his mother, the late Mrs. Sara Horne, what was the biggest thing that ever happened in their little hometown.
Miss Sara was known for her quick wit and answered without hesitation. “The biggest thing that ever happened in Pinehurst,” she said, “was when Cab Calloway’s sister, Blanche, came to Americus. Everybody left town to go see her. The streets here were empty!”
That mass outing to Americus was in the 1930s when Pinehurst was booming. Blanche Calloway was a popular jazz singer and bandleader of the era, a lady who paved the way for many others.
In September of 2020 Pinehurst had another big day, one that brought people in instead of taking them out. Miss Sara would be pleased that one of her descendants played a key role.
Luke Horne, 16-year-old great-grandson of Miss Sara, lives on their family’s farm just outside the city limits. His uncle, Dewel Lawrence, called me a few weeks ago to ask if I’d heard about his nephew winning 40 vehicles to give away. I wondered for a moment if Dewel’s cough syrup had fermented, but he sounded believable enough that I kept listening.
That conversation with Dewel was the first time I’d ever heard of MrBeast, a 22-year-old YouTube sensation. Now I’m hoping he’ll come this way on a regular basis.
Due to COVID-19, Luke and his family have spent more time than usual at home this year and have often relied on the internet for entertainment. Luke’s younger brother, Ben, is a fan of MrBeast, an energetic fellow who loves spreading money around. Ben convinced Luke to subscribe but had no idea he would hit the magic 40 million mark. When you’re the 40 millionth subscriber to a show which gives things away, you know something good is likely to happen. And it did.
Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson got in touch with Luke to congratulate him. He told him there would be a celebration but offered no details. MrBeast brought five car-haulers of vehicles to Luke’s home, had them parked on the lawn, then presented Luke with a challenge. He told him if he could give all 40 vehicles away in 24 hours, a 2019 Tesla Model 3 would belong to him.
Family and some friends got cars as did a few people Luke had never met. A young man from Surcheros in Cordele made a food delivery to Luke’s home and left with the best tip of his career. One of the happiest recipients was a fellow who was driving by and had no idea why a crowd had gathered. They flagged him down and gave him a yellow Ford Ranger.
MrBeast and Luke pulled into the drive-through window at Zaxby’s and surprised a youthful fast-food worker with a Nissan. A man walking through the parking lot at Walmart was given an Infiniti Q50. The day after her sixteenth birthday, a classmate of Luke’s celebrated with a Kia Forte. One of Luke’s football coaches got a Chevy Cruze to replace a vehicle he had wrecked.
When I asked Luke which car was the most fun to give away, he told me how much he enjoyed surprising his grandparents, Bill and Grada Horne, with a 2019 Nissan Sentra. It’s not often a grandchild gives a grandparent a vehicle. That’s a wonderful idea which I hope catches on quickly.
The 40 vehicles included some nice ones as well as several clunkers. Two that looked junkyard ready came with $5000 inside. If you want some lighthearted entertainment, you can watch Luke sharing his good fortune on YouTube’s MrBeast 40 Millionth Subscriber episode. I don’t know much about Jimmy Donaldson except he gets a kick out of making money so he can pass it on. In a world where the norm is holding tightly to all we can, it’s great to see someone who’s passionate about giving.
Luke now owns a classy gray Tesla, which I’m guessing is the first self-driving car with Pinehurst as home base. Forty other people are wearing smiles of gratitude. Millions more have enjoyed taking an amusing virtual trip to Dooly County.
I wish I could airmail this column to Miss Sara. She’d be tickled about Luke’s great adventure, but would no doubt strongly suggest he keep his hands on the steering wheel. And she’d be delighted to know there’s been another big day in Pinehurst, a day when the streets of the little town she loved dearly, were for a while busy once again.