Back in 2004, William Hung unintentionally became a viral sensation and became an American cult-legend with his off-key cover of Ricky Martin’s “She Bangs” during an American Idol audition.
Now, at 41, Hung spoke to People Magazine in an interview as he reflects on the unexpected journey that followed that unforgettable TV moment, from pursuing a musical career to navigating the highs and lows of life.
The Unlikely Audition
William Hung, a UC Berkeley engineering student, stepped into the American Idol audition room in 2004 with no expectations. His childlike innocence and passion for singing captured the attention of viewers, even if it wasn’t for the reasons he anticipated.
The video of Hung’s audition went viral, making him an overnight sensation. Despite the laughter and criticism from judges, including the famously blunt Simon Cowell, Hung maintained an upbeat attitude that resonated with many.
The Aftermath: Music, Television, and Motivation
Capitalizing on his viral fame, Hung dropped out of Berkeley to pursue a musical career. His first album, “Inspiration,” reached No. 1 independently. He made appearances on shows like Arrested Development, starred in commercials, and ventured into motivational speaking.
While Hung enjoyed a moment at the top, the fickle nature of the entertainment industry eventually led him back to reality. He returned to school, completed his degree and an MBA in mathematics, and took a job as a statistical analyst at the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department.
Got Addicted to Gambling
Hung’s life took another turn when he quit his job to become a professional poker player. Initially successful, he faced challenges when his gambling addiction spiraled out of control, leading to divorce and a period of reflection.
He got obsessed with sports betting poker and “the whole gamut”, resulting in two divorces. Acknowledging his mistakes, Hung addressed his gambling addiction in a lengthy post on his LinkedIn page, and, with resilience, rebuilt his life. He returned to his job at the Sheriff’s Department, married his now-third wife, and emphasized the importance of stability.
Hung, now happily married, emphasizes the importance of stability and providing for his family. While still involved in entertainment endeavors on the side, he appreciates the balance between fame and a steady job.