A nine-year-old boy Caine Monroy, who created an arcade in his father's auto parts store with cardboard boxes, is the latest Internet sensation. A short film about him, "Caine's Arcade," got 3.5 million views in four days and over 5 million in 10 days.
Hundreds of online articles have been written about Caine and TV stories have been aired by Fox, NBC and CNN.
The New York Times reports that last summer, Caine, in his father's store, in eastern Los Angeles, created simple games out of discarded boxes he collected from junkyards. His arcade, after the success of the film "Caine's Arcade," now attracts a steady stream of people, children, television crews, neighbors and supporters.
According to The New York Times, Caine has received more than $170,000 in online donations.
Los Angeles Times reports that the owner of a pinball machine store, Pins and Needles, was so moved by the film that she gave him a pinball machine worth thousands of dollars for free.
The boy, still struggling to adapt to his sudden fame, said: “It’s cool. I have more customers now.”
At Caine's Arcade, you need only $1 for four turns at one of the cardboard games, but with $2, you get 500 turns. One of the games involves getting a ball of tape through a basketball hoop and other involves passing a ball through army figurines and a soccer goal.
Patrons may also buy a T-shirt emblazoned with the word "staff" in front and "Caine's Arcade" behind. Caine had the shirts made when his family was on vacation in Palm Springs last summer. According to The New York Times, the boy admits he isn't sure what "staff" means, but workers at the mall wear T-shirts emblazoned with the word, and it seems to make them pretty important.
He charges $15 for a T-shirt.
Caine's proud father George Monroy, speaks about his son: “He’s always been trying to figure out ways to make money.” According to George, Caine has always had a knack for spotting money making opportunities. He once bought trendy rubber bracelets for 99 cents on eBay and sold them for $5. Before trying his hands on arcade business, Caine had ventured into selling signs supporting sports teams, but his only customer was his father's secretary who made a purchase after Caine's father gave her $5 and asked her to pretend she really wanted one. Later, Caine tried hawking sodas and chips he bought from a vending machine on a skateboard.
Los Angeles Times reports a filmmaker called Nirvan Mullick, who made the movie about Caine last fall, had wandered into the store and noticed his arcade creations. Mullick was looking for a car handle for his '96 Corolla and happened on Caine's dad's auto parts shop. He became Caine's first arcade customer. Mullick said: “As soon as I saw him, I was immediately sucked back into my childhood. He had such focus, took it so seriously and just believed in what he had.”
According The New York Times, Mullick used social network to help Caine attract hundreds of customers last fall and even filmed his reaction. His planned to raise $25,000 for Caine to pay for his college education, but according to BoingBoing, Goldhirsh Foundation promised to match the money raised and create a scholarship fund for Caines Arcade Foundation "which will help find, foster, and fund creativity and entrepreneurship in young kids."
Mullick told E! Online: "First day the video was up, it raised $60,000. So then we raised the goal to $100,000, and now....it's over $120,000...it's more than money that makes the experience worthwhile, it's the outpouring of emotions and nostalgia that this video's been bringing out in people, that is even more precious than that number...it just reminds them what it was like to be a kid and the creativity of a kid—just seeing a young boy trying to build his dream and the relationship with his dad. Dad's supersweet and gave him this room to be a kid."
While Caine does the basic math involved in money transactions quickly, he struggles with reading. His father, George, says he will use some of the money to pay for a private tutor or move him to a private school.