Ted Ngoy was born in Cambodia in a village near the Thailand border. In 1967, Ngoy was sent to study in the capital, Phnom Penh, where he fell in love with Suganthini Khoeun, the daughter of a high-ranking government official. Khoeun's parents denied Ngoy's suitability as a mate for their daughter due to his lower social class, but relented when their distraught daughter attempted suicide. The couple was wed and had three children.
Ngoy worked at various jobs, including as a travel agent and tour guide, before joining the military in 1970. Through the maneuvering of his brother-in-law, Sak Sutsakhan, Ngoy was promoted to the rank of major and appointed military attache at Cambodia's embassy in Thailand. In the mid-1970s, Ngoy fled the Khmer Rouge with his wife and three children to Camp Pendleton.
Ngoy secured work as a janitor with Peace Lutheran Church in Tustin, California. While working a second job at a gas station, Ngoy took notice of a busy local doughnut shop and inquired of its operators about learning the business. He subsequently received training through an affirmative action program to increase minority hiring within the Winchell's chain of doughnut shops, and managed a store in Newport Beach where he employed his family. By 1977 he was able to purchase his first doughnut shop, Christy's Doughnuts, in La Habra.
Ngoy bought additional doughnut shops in Orange County and began to lease these to Cambodian refugees, seeing an opportunity to expand his business and help the large number of poor, unassimilated Cambodians who had fled the Khmer Rouge to the United States. By 1987, Ngoy owned 32 Christy's Doughnuts locations in California.
Ngoy's fortunes improved dramatically, such that by the mid-1980s Ngoy had amassed millions of dollars through his expanding doughnut shop empire, reported as 50 locations throughout California. In 1985, Ngoy and his wife became American citizens and were enjoying a lavish lifestyle including a million dollar home at Lake Mission Viejo, a vacation home, expensive cars, and vacations to Europe. Ngoy also involved himself in American politics, joining the Republican Party and hosting fundraisers for George H.W. Bush.
Despite the wealth he had built and his importance within his community, Ngoy felt dissatisfied, remarking: "No political life, no religious life, just work, work." By 2005, after large gambling losses and a political career in Cambodia, Ngoy was penniless and living on the porch of a fellow Parkcrest Christian Church parishioner's mobile home.
In 2013, he was living in Phnom Penh working in the real estate business.
- "From Sweet Success to Bitter Tears". Los Angeles Times. 2005-01-19.
- "A Taste Of Cambodia". Los Angeles Times. 1988-12-19.
- "Voices From The First Generation". Los Angeles Times. 1989-11-05.
- Sucheng Chan (2004). Survivors: Cambodian Refugees in the United States. University of Illinois Press. p. 147. ISBN 0-252-07179-4.
- "Asians Looking to Broaden Horizons". Los Angeles Times. 1987-02-02.
- "The story of the man they called the doughnut king". The Phnom Penh Post. 2013-10-11.