-- Alex Lee, aka #AlexFromTarget, says he’s “still the same person” despite his newfound Internet fame.
“I'm trying to stay the same person. I don’t want to change because of this,” Alex told ABC News’ Juju Chang in an interview for the upcoming ABC News special, “The Year: 2014."
Tweens on Twitter propelled the 16-year-old from Frisco, Texas, into Internet stardom after a picture of him snapped by a secret admirer when he was working as a grocery bagger this summer at Target went utterly viral.
On that Wednesday at work, Alex was just a regular high school junior with 144 Twitter followers. By the end of his shift, Alex said, he had about 300,000 followers. He now has over 749,000 Twitter followers, he said. (*as of right now…)
“One of my managers came up and showed me the pictures,” Alex said. “It had 20,000 retweets, and I was so confused.”
Alex, who still works at Target in Frisco -- only now he works in the storage rooms -- said he was just hoping to save enough money to buy a Jeep Wrangler to drive as soon as he gets his license. Target has been very supportive, Alex said.
“I went to work one day after this happened, and I worked in the back, and they put me on at cashier to see what would happen, and pretty much everyone who came through my lane noticed me,” Alex said.
“And then a crowd of girls from high schools came in, and then a guy came in offering to pay my co-workers a hundred dollars to find out where I am.”
Since then, Alex has appeared on Ellen DeGeneres’ talk show and flown all across the country for appearances. He says he has also turned down offers from a few small businesses to promote their products and agencies who want to represent him and even a number of interviews.
Alex sends any inquiries straight to his dad and his adviser, John Shahidi, “because I feel like [people making the offers] just want to manipulate me.” Alex is now being represented by Shahidi, who is guiding him on next steps. Shahidi is the CEO of a selfie app called Shots.
“I've been saying the word crazy for the past two weeks so many times, because it is really crazy, how it all happened,” Alex said. “I'm not really sure what the plan is to keep it going. But I think we’re doing a pretty good job so far, whatever it is.”
Despite having to turn down marriage proposals and encountering a girl who cried when he took a photo with her, Alex says he doesn't see himself as famous.
“I don’t think it’s changed that much. I'm trying to stay grounded, trying not to get a big head,” Alex said. “The negative comments haven't really gotten to me, which is good. I'm trying to make sure those don’t, like, affect me.”
Alex’s best friends and classmates, most of whom he has known for years, still treat him the same, and at home, Alex still has to take the trash out.
“I still have a normal life at home, still do chores, clean my room, play with my little sister,” Alex said. “If my parents wake up and the trash isn't taken out, then my parents take away pretty much all of my electronics.”
While Alex’s girlfriend, a 15-year-old sophomore he had been dating for a few weeks before his image went viral, has gotten jealous, Alex said the situation has brought them closer.
“I was telling her, like, ‘You don’t have to be jealous,’” Alex said. “’This won’t change anything between us.’”
Alex has used some of his fame to work with charities, including his mother’s charity, the nonprofit Just Love International, which he promotes with his parents and his pastor’s wife. He uses social media to bring attention to the charity’s upcoming events.
“It provides for kids who are, like, needy, and, like, don’t really, can't provide for themselves,” Alex said. “I think it’s a really good opportunity to be able to help with a lot of charities.”
Although he is considering trying modeling and acting, Alex still wants to be a psychologist and will use any money that comes in from his Internet fame to pay for college.
“I’m trying to make things positive out of it. I don’t want to just, like, throw it all away, because it is a one-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Alex said.
“I’m really lucky to have it.”