Viral music sensation Oliver Anthony, who gained fame after his song "Rich Men North of Richmond" went viral, turned down multiple seven-figure offers from music industry representatives and voiced his concerns about the divided state of Americans online in a Facebook post.
After recording his song on his Virginia farmland, Anthony's track became an instant hit, garnering over 17 million views on YouTube as of Thursday afternoon, and just as many on X, the platform formerly known as Twitter.
The red-bearded high school dropout described himself on Facebook as "just some idiot and his guitar," expressing disbelief at his sudden rise to fame. The song, a critique of Washington greed and a lamentation of working-class issues like suicide, despair, high taxation, and low wages, has resonated with many conservative listeners online, while some progressives have criticized it as right-wing propaganda.
In his Facebook post, Anthony revealed that his real name is Christopher Anthony Lunsford, and "Oliver Anthony Music" is a tribute to his grandfather and the Appalachia community where he grew up. He stated that he dropped out of high school in 2010 at age 17. "At this point, I'll gladly go by Oliver because everyone knows me as such. But my friends and family still call me Chris. You can decide for yourself, either is fine," he wrote.
Anthony shared that he had read more than 50,000 messages and emails over the past week, painting a "brutally honest picture" of widespread addiction, unemployment, anxiety, and hopelessness among his fans.
Discussing his past, Anthony mentioned a "living hell" of a job at a North Carolina paper mill and a 2013 accident in which he fractured his skull, forcing him to move back to Virginia. He currently resides on a $97,500 farmland, living in a 27-foot camper with a tarp on the roof. Between 2014 and this year, he worked in outside sales for industrial manufacturing, interacting with thousands of other blue-collar workers.
Anthony urged people to exercise their freedom of speech and never let it be taken away.
"Just like those once wandering in the desert, we have lost our way from God and have let false idols distract us and divide us. It's a damn shame," he wrote.
His August 23 concert in Farmville, Virginia, sold out within minutes of tickets going on sale, with the venue holding only 300 people, as reported by the Statesville Record & Landmark. Anthony said he would soon be holding shows in larger venues to accommodate more fans.
Following the success of "Rich Men North of Richmond," Anthony's other songs, such as "Ain't Gotta Dollar" and "I've Got to Get Sober," have also amassed millions of views online.