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Tuesday, February 27, 2024


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.

His Public Letter Towards His Gambling Addiction

Hey everyone, I’ve been struggling with gambling addiction for a long time but now it’s time to deal with it, once and for all. Here is the goodbye letter I wrote to gambling today:

Dear Gambling Problem,

This isn’t easy for me, but it’s time for me to be honest: It’s over. For years, I had been fooling myself by thinking things between us would change. With you, it was always tomorrow, next week, next month, next year – but you could never let me just be me. Everything was always about you.

Do you remember when we met? I sure do…I thought it was my lucky day. I was just starting to get the hang of playing poker. I won $200! I was ecstatic. You wooed me with a nice win and told me about all the things we could do together with the money: go for bigger wins with poker tournaments, roll the dice at the craps table, chase Dragon and Panda side bets in baccarat, and bet on sports to feel like a genius.

I found myself missing you anytime we were apart, but it seemed like you always had a way to be there for me. I stopped working out. I stopped seeing and talking to most of my friends. You even surprised me when you let me win big to let me say goodbye to my day job! You gave me so much hope that I can become one of the gambling kings, just like the classic Hong Kong movies.

You must be wondering when things changed. I was too, until I looked back on it. We were watching an Angels baseball game together with my ex-wife. I remember I was nervous whenever the Angels got 3 outs because I had a big bet for the Angels to win, instead of being present and enjoying the game with her. For what? Because YOU had me worrying about our bet on the game instead…

Things went downhill fast when my ex-wife found out about you. I came home from work one day, and she started asking me all these questions about why I was so nervous about every sports game and why I was always tired. Eventually, I couldn’t hide you any more. I told her how you gave me one of the biggest lucky streaks in my life, only to take it away. How do you think that went – with all of the money I could have used to improve our life – gone? I’ll give you a hint: it ended with her asking for a divorce.

When I was younger, my mom warned me about addictions like you. You lure people in with your sweetness and then trick them into being your pawn. I can hardly believe that I let you take control over my life. It doesn’t matter now – we’re done. My friend told me I need to go to Gambling Anonymous.

I was scared to go at first, but I heard too many stories of people losing everything they have: their finances, their family and friends, as well as their careers. They helped me see how you had changed me and what you really are. I don’t expect you to care, but I wanted to let you know that I’ve started on the path to recovery. I hope you stay single, because nobody deserves what you put me through.

Images source: William Hung on YouTube and @williamhungofficial on Instagram

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