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BuzzFeed Writer's Stolen Phone Sparks Chinese Viral Sensation

BuzzFeed writer Matt Stopera and "Brother Orange" visit Tiananmen Square in Beijing.
BuzzFeed writer Matt Stopera and "Brother Orange" visit Tiananmen Square in Beijing.

It started with a cell phone stolen from a bar in New York's East Village.

It ends — in China — with a crazy week-long meetup between the guy whose phone was stolen and the Chinese restaurant owner who ended up with that phone.

BuzzFeed writer Matt Stopera became a viral sensation in China after he discovered mysterious photos of a man posing with an orange tree on his iPhone's photo stream. He wrote a story about it, and users on Weibo, a Chinese social media site, found the man who ended up with his stolen phone.

A month ago, Stopera told NPR's Kelly McEvers about his discovery and how he became a minor celebrity in China. He returned to talk to NPR's Melissa Block about his trip to China and the unlikely friendship he formed with "Brother Orange."

"One of the lessons I learned is never judge a man by his selfies," Stopera says. "Because in his selfies he looks so serious, and in real life, he was just the warmest, funniest, very smart guy."

Click on the audio link above to hear the interview.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.