How I Became A Minor Celebrity In China (After My Stolen Phone Ended Up There)

This really weird thing happened to my phone and an even weirder thing happened after. A continuation of: Who Is This Man And Why Are His Photos Showing Up On My Phone. Updated on March 18. Bro Orange and I are hanging out RIGHT NOW!

1. THIS STORY BEGINS LAST MONTH…

Chris Ritter for BuzzFeed

I was sitting on my couch in the living room looking at my photo stream, you know, looking for something to Instagram. That’s when I noticed a bunch of pictures I hadn’t taken. Like, a lot of them. They were mostly of this man taking selfies with an orange tree. To be honest, it was pretty funny but also fucking terrifying because I didn’t take the pictures.

3. WHO IS THIS MAN AND WHY ARE HIS PICTURES SHOWING UP ON MY PHONE?

Matt Stopera/The Orange Man

For the next month, more pictures kept on showing up in my stream. It was pretty weird but I got used to it. It was exciting going into my photo stream and seeing what he had done that day.

It was like our ~clouds~ crossed and he was my long-lost brother or other dimension partner in crime. It was cool.

7. And then I found out what was really happening.

I was talking to a friend of mine about Orange Man’s pictures showing up on my phone. He asked me if my phone was stolen recently. It was. Not recently, though. My phone was stolen OVER A YEAR AGO from a bar in the East Village.

My friend said most stolen iPhones end up in China.

My stolen iPhone ended up in China.

I went to the Apple Store and, sure enough, there was my old iPhone on the iCloud. Orange Man’s pictures were showing up in my stream because my iCloud was still connected.

I deleted the phone and that was it.

Chris Ritter For BuzzFeed

9. Then the story spread to China.

@mattstopera your story is famous in China…

— Thomas Meng (@826630167)

I wrote this article for BuzzFeed and then I started getting TONS of tweets from people in China.

They were helping me find Orange Man.

@mattstopera wish u can find him:).ur story are sooo famous in China that all of my friends have known u and the orange tree guy,lol

— Bisia@OORer (@bisia_0414)

@mattstopera Now all Chinese know your story. We are helping you. 真牛逼。大家快来留言啊,占领推特

— zhangsan (@hanmonious)

@mattstopera man I'm Chinese and in our country we r trying to find this man. You r famous in China now😂😂

— lifeissuck (@ZQinZ)

@mattstopera my friends and I are making an effort to find the orange tree guy

— 郭图南 (@2369676813)

16. Chinese Netizens, as they call themselves, had found my BuzzFeed story, translated it, and put it on the Chinese version of Twitter, Weibo.

17. It was blowing up.

@mattstopera Your story has been retweeted on Weibo for almost 49,000 times now :) people are always moved by the story of true love

— Yule Wang (@yule_wang)

@mattstopera ur story is very famous in China now,it has been reposted for more than 10000 times on weibo(Chinese Twitter) in one hour。

— tmacshadow (@tmacshadow)

@mattstopera buddy,u story are really famous on weibo now.😂😂

— Tailes-tong (@taylor52418628)

20. They pretty quickly found where the pictures were taken.

@mattstopera The guy is from Guangdong China, we Chinese are helping you look for him on the Internet lol

— DFY (@DFY9)

21. That’s right here:

22. More specifically, they found the city.

@mattstopera hey buddy,I think the orange guy is in my city XD.In Meizhou,Guangdong province.

— Randall (@Randall27103092)

23. That’s it right here:

24. But they still couldn’t find him.

25. They kept trying.

26. My favorite messages were people saying how romantic the story was. They said it was like a fairy tale and perfect for the Chinese Spring Festival.

@mattstopera abosolutely hot in China😂😂 romantic story

— 陳柳羽同學 (@MapleRainy)

@mattstopera its famous and romantic during our spring festival lol

— JohnHans (@JohnHanss)

@mattstopera this is the best news I head ever during spring festival lol how romantic it is

— tryyyyy (@tanruiyi1)

29. Other people said he was my long lost brother.

@mattstopera he's definitely your long lost brother.

— ♕ (@vickycyq)

30. It was seriously overwhelming.

@mattstopera i saw ur pix of Twitter on weibo,come here to see what happened.wow,dude,ur r cool....hahaha2333333

— echo (@ech0_zhao)

@mattstopera Your lost phone adventure is going viral on Chinese social media lol! Keep us updated on the story!

— Yazhou Sun (@yazhous)

@mattstopera hahahahahahahahahaha can't stop laughing! U r famous now dude! Hahahahahahahahahahahahaha

— Alex Lu (@alexllllllu)

33. Someone even offered to buy him a new phone!

@mattstopera

— echo (@ech0_zhao)

34. Then they found him.

@mattstopera hey guy,we found the orange guy.

— momoko (@Shirleylee97)

@mattstopera 小哥!!橘子哥找到啦!!! Hey bro!The orange tree brother was found!

— 象你妹 (@tnahpeleeeeE)

@mattstopera weve found him 4 u and it seems 2 be a perfect start of a great romance story😂😂😂👏👏👏

— 懒Lan (@lanlan1998_)

@mattstopera somebody found him today! #internetpower

— fzk (@fzkhello)

39. They posted a picture of my phone. THIS IS MY PHONE! THAT IS (BASICALLY*) MY NUMBER!

@mattstopera Is that your phone?

— Mingchu Xu (@xmc811)

*That’s not exactly my number. It’s a couple digits off but same area code and everything. It has to be it.

41. Apparently Orange Man’s nephew heard about the story and posted pictures of my phone and pictures of his uncle on Weibo.

@mattstopera we find him!!the orange tree guy,haha,Internet is amazing,maybe someone will help you contact him.

— tmacshadow (@tmacshadow)

42. Orange Man and my phone have been found, and now they’re trying to set us up.

@mattstopera Hi I am the blogger who wrote your story on ‘Chinese Twitter'. We just found him! wanna get in touch?

— grasszhang (@grasszhang)

43. Someone who works for Weibo named Justin reached out to me.

@mattstopera Hey Matt this is Justin from Weibo. We might have found orange guy in China. And now we are trying to contact with this guy.

— Justin CHEN (@chenzhj14)

@mattstopera people On Weibo are really interested in this story. And I wonder if there is a chance that you may log in a Weibo account

— Justin CHEN (@chenzhj14)

@mattstopera so that you and orange tree guy may talk with each other directly. You know it's not easy to access to Twitter in China

— Justin CHEN (@chenzhj14)

47. We started messaging with each other and that’s when I really found out Orange Man’s deal.

50. I also found out he wants to be called “Brother Orange” not “Uncle Orange” and that I’m invited to his house for local food.

51. And that’s where we’re at. We’re literally on opposite sides of the world, so when he’s awake, I’m sleeping. We’ll see how this plays out.

52. 2/21 UPDATE!

53. So, this morning I created a Weibo account and Jesus Christ, it was overwhelming.

54. I released a “statement” and in minutes thousands of people had already read it.

55. Thousands of comments are being posted to the thread.

56. And honestly, all of them are pretty incredible.

57. WHAT IS EVEN GOING ON!?

58. Then I was sent Bro Orange’s profile.

59. He also released a statement. This is the translated version, so obviously it’s a little confusing but you can figure it out.

60. As of right now, over 22 MILLION PEOPLE on Weibo have read the story.

61. 2/22 UPDATE!

62. Things are getting crazier and more real.

63. Like, I’m actually famous in China.

@mattstopera do you know?you are the most popular person of chinese.welcome to china。i am in sanya,hainan。

— 海传奇 (@kcuffree)

@mattstopera you might be the most famous foreigner in China at this Chinese new year!你有可能是这个春节在中国最出名的外国人了!

— 臧柳升 (@ZangLiusheng)

@mattstopera hey you are so famous in China right now.Came here to see ya 😝😝😝😝😝you are so funny

— LilyChow- (@435446921)

67. Over 30 MILLION PEOPLE have read the story!

@mattstopera over 30623000 Chinese people have read the story,it become the top news!

— Ariana Chang (@arianachang2)

68. And at one point, my name was No. 1 on Weibo’s trending topics.

@mattstopera Ahahahas right after u tweeted on WB, yr name is now trending at no. 1 outta top 100 hot search ranking!

— TaraQin (@TaraQin)

69. It was being searched more than any other thing.

And then this happened: Your username became the most searched word on Weibo right now. (110, 000 times) @mattstopera

— Lost Glories (@lostglories)

70. People from all over China are offering to be my tour guides and translators.

@mattstopera It's a dramatic stroy happens to you,Now eveyone in my hometown knows it and wellcome you to visit my hometown MeiZhou.

— MingKwan (@mingkwan89)

@mattstopera hey i learned about ur story and it was awesome!! Do come to Shanghai when you visit China plz

— LeoLun (@leorock199)

@mattstopera Welcome to Meizhou.I think I can teach u hakka .What do u think?

— kiseki (@Z520500618)

73. While some others are also just tweeting emoji oranges at me (lol).

@mattstopera 🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊🍊

— Lisa Tsui (@iimlisacui)

74. There are even pictures of Bro Orange looking at my Weibo page!

@mattstopera hi Matt !!!Bro Orange is reading your message now, although it's hard for him to understand English!!🍊😉

— Eileen Huang (@EileenHuang0804)

75. Speaking of Bro Orange, I’m one step closer to going to China and actually meeting him. THIS IS HAPPENING.

76. I posted a message directly to him.

77. He responded with a formal invitation.

78. I accepted, and within minutes there were thousands of views and hundreds of comments. IT’S CRAZY.

79. UPDATE 2/25!

80. This is really fun.

Everyone on Weibo keeps on giving me these side-eyeing Shiba Inu emojis. I love all my Chinese fans!

— Matt Stopera (@mattstopera)

81. The story has been read over 60 million times on Chinese social media.

82. And everything is still completely insane.

Coming soon: "Brother Orange", a tale of two men and one cloud. @mattstopera #brotherorange http://t.co/tqC4LCHdom

— Ash Oat (@taoofoat)

83. Like really crazy.

84. One of the coolest things about this whole thing is all the Chinese people signing up for Twitter and Facebook because of the story.

85. It’s truly ~bridging boundaries~

In order to better communicate with @mattstopera and other foreigners,I must work hard to learn English…

— 嘟嘟是个好姑娘 (@1332115294King)

86. I can’t believe this is happening.

87. The comments on Weibo have been hilarious and great. I’ve been getting thousands of new followers every day. It’s insane.

88. Again, this is my life.

89. THIS IS MY LIFE.

90. In even bigger news, I’ve almost finished planning my trip to meet Bro Orange.

91. I’ve been taking a bunch of pictures with oranges because that’s what I do these days. In this picture, I asked him when a good time would visit.

92. Bro Orange responded with a video wishing me a happy new year. He said the Chinese Lantern Festival would be the perfect time to visit. That’s on March 5.

93. BUT UNFORTUNATELY, I couldn’t get a Chinese visa in time.

94. So, I recommended another date: March 18.

95. Today he responded: Yes.

96. Me and Bro Orange will meet on March 18 in Meizhou, China.

99. I finally made it and it is crazy. EVERYONE showed up at the airport to meet me.

Basically, now I know what it feels like to be Kim K at LAX with Kanye and Northwest. AKLJSDFJKL;ASF;

— Matt Stopera (@mattstopera)

100. BRO ORANGE HAD A WELCOME SIGN FOR ME.

Matt Stopera

We also have matching tees.

101. On my first day here, Bro Orange and I went everywhere together.

Day 1 of my Chinese press tour complete lol.

— Matt Stopera (@mattstopera)

102. We took a mud bath together (obvs).

This is insane lol

— Matt Stopera (@mattstopera)

103. Everyone was pretty into it.

Just took a mud bath with Bro Orange and like 20 cameras watching us lol

— Matt Stopera (@mattstopera)

104. And we planted a tree together.

Literally people taking pictures of me + Bro Orange shoveling lmao.

— Matt Stopera (@mattstopera)

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