Airport Pianist Receives $60,000 Tip From Strangers Online

by : Emily Brown on : 12 Aug 2021 12:30
Airport Pianist Receives $60,000 Tip From Strangers Onlineloswhit/Instagram

An airport pianist was brought to tears after learning a kind stranger had managed to raise him more than $60,000 in tips with the help of his Instagram followers.

Tonee ‘Valentine’ Carter was performing at a piano bar in Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport in Georgia last month when motivational speaker, podcaster and author Carlos Whittaker stopped to listen to his music.


The pair struck up a conversation and, admiring his passion, Whittaker decided to share Valentine’s story with his 221,000 Instagram followers.

Valentine playing the piano in Atlanta airport (Fox 5 Atlanta)Fox 5 Atlanta

Recalling the situation to Fox 5 Atlanta, the author said: ‘I just saw this guy playing the piano, just having the time of his life. Nobody was really paying attention to him. It was 10 in the morning and I thought, I’m going to go sit and hang out.’

Valentine started playing the piano at five years old and went on to spend more than a decade sharing his talent with audiences on cruise ships, however, he has been playing at the airport for the last several years while on dialysis due to kidney failure.


Whittaker noticed Valentine’s tip jar was empty so encouraged his followers to tip the pianist via Venmo, wondering at the time how much money his followers would be able to raise in 30 minutes.

Check out what happened below:


He expected to tip the musician around $2,500 after 30 minutes, but his request for tips ended up spreading beyond his own following, with footage shared by Whittaker showing him announcing to Valentine that he was about to receive a $10,000 tip.


Explaining where the money came from, Whittaker said: ‘One-hundred, seventy-five thousand strangers that loved your piano playing and I asked them to give you money… Now, I gotta go catch a flight. But you are loved. You’re adored. I don’t know what you need with 10,000 dollars but it’s yours.’

In the days following their encounter, Valentine’s tip reached more than $60,000 – a figure which left him feeling ‘overwhelmed’ and caused him to start ‘bawling’, according to Good Morning America.

The pianist said the act of generosity demonstrated by Whittaker and his followers gave him hope in humanity, saying: ‘When people do things like that, total strangers and they hear my story and they want to give me a gift like that. Thankful is inadequate. I want to give back and help people like he’s doing.’

Pianist reacts to learning about huge tip (loswhit/Instagram)loswhit/Instagram

Though Valentine plans to spend a little of the money on getting an oil change for his car, he’s set to donate the rest in quarterly donations to the American Kidney Foundation.

He explained: ‘That money’s not mine. I’m going to be paying it forward.’

Following their initial encounter at the airport, Valentine and Whittaker have remained close and often chat via text or on the phone.

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Emily Brown

Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.

Topics: Life, Atlanta, Georgia


Fox 5 Atlanta
  1. Fox 5 Atlanta

    Musician receives largest tip ever thanks to the generosity of strangers