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Piano player at Atlanta airport gets $60K tip from strangers

Published: Jul. 24, 2021 at 3:33 PM EDT
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ATLANTA (WSB) - A beloved piano player at Atlanta’s airport got the tip of a lifetime, thanks to the power of social media.

A corner of Concourse A at the Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport may be the most joyful part of the whole place, thanks to Tonee Carter.

Carter has been playing the piano for 60 years, the last seven in the airport.

“This is the most fun job I’ve ever had. People love live music. They’ve had a weary travel day. They’re not expecting this, and it changes everything,” Carter said. “I love this job.”

Travelers love Carter, but he never lets it get to his head.

“It’s classic Dad,” Carter’s son-in-law, Ty Berrian, said. “Exactly how he is. He handles the spotlight with grace and honor like no other.”

It was when Carter met a traveler named Carlos Whittaker, an author and motivational speaker, that the love became prevalent.

Carter had shared his story with Whittaker, a story that would move him.

“The second he told me he’s on dialysis nine hours a night, wakes up every morning and plays the piano for four hours,” Whittaker said. “I said, ‘this brother is about to get a big tip.’”

Whittaker reached out to his followers on social media. Within a few minutes, the tip reached $10,000 and within a few hours it was at $60,000.

“I do what I do because I love it. It’s never been about money for me,” Carter said. “But this is over the top. This is God at work, man.”

When Whittaker finally made the big reveal, Carter seemed at first to not believe him and then he burst into tears.

One hundred and seventy thousand people donated to help Carter.

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