Ken Nwadike Jr.

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
(Redirected from Ken Nwadike)

Ken Nwadike Jr.
Personal information
Born (1981-12-29) December 29, 1981 (age 42)
San Diego, California, United States
YouTube information
Also known asFree Hugs Guy
Years active2014–present
Subscribers224,000 subscribers
(January 15, 2024)
Total views55 million views
(January 15, 2024)
100,000 subscribers2018

Kenneth E. Nwadike Jr. is an American documentary filmmaker, motivational speaker, and peace activist popularly known as the "Free Hugs Guy".[1] Ken is the founder of the Free Hugs Project. His "Free Hugs" videos have reached hundreds of millions of views on Facebook and YouTube.[2]


In 2014, Nwadike launched the Free Hugs Project with the stated purpose of spreading love in response to the bombing of the Boston Marathon. The Free Hugs Project gained popularity in 2016, as Nwadike made major news headlines for his efforts towards de-escalation of violence during protests, riots, and political rallies.[3] Nwadike was featured in Google's 2016 Year in Search video as a highlight among some of the year's most defining moments.[4] Nwadike has made many appearances on news programs and radio broadcasts worldwide, including CNN, USA Today, Good Morning Britain, and BBC News.

Nwadike is the President and CEO of Superhero Events, LLC, which produces the annual Hollywood Half Marathon. The marathon, held each spring in Hollywood, California, with the purpose of raising funds for local homeless youth shelters.[5]

On March 30, 2016, Nwadike released the controversial "Donald Trump Rally Free Hugs vs Bernie Sanders Rally Free Hugs" video to his "Free Hugs Project" channels on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.[6] The video became a viral hit and his #MakeAmericaLoveAgain hashtag became a trending topic on Facebook and Twitter.[7] Nwadike's "Free Hugs" videos have reached hundreds of millions views on Facebook and YouTube.[8]

During Super Bowl LIV, Ken Nwadike was featured in the Budweiser Super Bowl 2020 commercial titled, "Typical American" which showcases “the extraordinary people that represent the best of America.” [9][10]


As a motivational speaker, Ken details his former homelessness and states that he overcame insecurities by getting involved in extracurricular activities in school. The support, he says, he received from coaches, teammates, and friends while playing sports and participating in student government activities, helped pave the way for Ken to start a number of businesses and a charitable organization that helps homeless teens.[11]

The Free Hugs Project is a program conducted at workplaces and colleges, designed to bridge racial divides and encourage civility.[12]

In October 2017, Nwadike filed with the Federal Election Commission to run for President of the United States in the 2020 election.[13] He later withdrew from the race.[14][failed verification]

Live appearances[edit]

Aside from YouTube and Facebook videos, Nwadike has appeared on worldwide news programs and radio broadcasts.

  • April 4, 2012 – Nwadike was featured on an NBC 4 Los Angeles special, titled, Life Connected.[15]
  • April 5, 2016 – Nwadike interview with Pix 11 news to share why he launched the Free Hugs Project.[16]
  • March 23, 2016 – Free Hugs Guy interviewed live on set during the Fox 5 San Diego morning show to discuss the Free Hugs Project and give hugs to news anchors.[17]
  • September 16, 2016 – Ken teams up with the hosts of Good Morning Britain in London to launch Free Hugs Friday.[18]
  • September 23, 2016 – Nwadike was interviewed live on CNN with Poppy Harlow after Charlotte Protests.[19]
  • January 24, 2020 - Ken Nwadike visited Fox 5 San Diego to discuss inclusion in the Budweiser Super Bowl 2020 commercial.[20]

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Nominated Award Result
2017 Ken E. Nwadike, Jr. Most-Admired Public Leader in San Diego[21] Won
2017 Ken E. Nwadike, Jr. Simeon Booker Award for Courage Won
2017 Ken E. Nwadike, Jr. Citizen Achievement Award Won


Year Title Role Notes
2016 Accidental Courtesy: Daryl Davis, Race & America Himself Netflix Documentary
2017 The L.A. Riots: 25 Years Later[22] Himself History Channel Documentary
2020 Called to the Front Lines[23] Himself Documentary

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Man Offers Hugs At Trump And Sanders Rallies, Asks Which America We Want". The Huffington Post. March 31, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  2. ^ Deaderick, Lisa (May 7, 2016). "Making the world better, a hug at a time". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  3. ^ Peterson, Karla (October 31, 2016). "In failing the homeless, San Diego stands apart". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on November 2, 2016. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  4. ^ Tremelling, Miriam (December 21, 2016). "Google's 'Year in Search 2016' connects with message of hope". Campaign US. Retrieved December 21, 2016.
  5. ^ "Hollywood Half Marathon". NBC Los Angeles. April 5, 2012. Retrieved April 5, 2012.
  6. ^ "Free Hugs Project shows difference between Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump rallies". AM New York. March 31, 2016. Retrieved March 31, 2016.
  7. ^ "Here's What Happens When You Ask for a Hug at a Trump Rally Versus a Sanders Rally". Yahoo News. April 2, 2016. Retrieved April 2, 2016.
  8. ^ Deaderick, Lisa (May 7, 2016). "Making the world better, a hug at a time". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Retrieved May 8, 2016.
  9. ^ "Fox 13 Salt Lake City". Fox 13. February 1, 2020. Retrieved February 1, 2020.
  10. ^ "Ad Age". Ad Age. January 23, 2020. Retrieved January 23, 2020.
  11. ^ "Peace Activist / Motivational Speaker". Free Hugs Project. October 1, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  12. ^ "Peace Activist / Motivational Speaker". Free Hugs Project. October 1, 2016. Retrieved October 1, 2016.
  13. ^ Nwadike, Kenneth E. (October 18, 2017). "FEC FORM 2" (PDF). Federal Election Commission. Retrieved July 31, 2018.
  14. ^ "About Ken E. Nwadike, Jr". Kenny 2020. Archived from the original on April 27, 2019. Retrieved April 27, 2019.
  15. ^ "Formerly Homeless Man Directs Race to Benefit Local Shelters". NBC 4 Los Angeles. April 4, 2012. Retrieved April 4, 2012.
  16. ^ "'Free Hugs' man wants to make America LOVE again with free hugs". Pix 11 News New York. April 5, 2016. Retrieved April 5, 2016.
  17. ^ "'Free Hugs' guy brings project to San Diego". Fox 5 San Diego. May 23, 2016. Retrieved May 23, 2016.
  18. ^ "Time to celebrate Free Hugs Friday!". ITV Good Morning Britain. September 16, 2016. Retrieved September 16, 2016.
  19. ^ "Activist hands out 'Free Hugs' amid violent protests in Charlotte". CNN. September 23, 2016. Retrieved September 23, 2016.
  20. ^ "San Diego 'Free Hugs guy' Ken Nwadike Jr. gets Super Bowl commercial". Fox 5 San Diego. January 24, 2020. Retrieved January 24, 2020.
  21. ^ Murphy, Nelson (April 24, 2017). "The Malin Burnham Awards - Vote for the Most Admired Leaders in San Diego". MNM Communications. Retrieved June 5, 2017.
  22. ^ "Kenneth Nwadike". IMDb. Retrieved September 16, 2020.
  23. ^ [dead link] [user-generated source]

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]