At 81 years old, Stephen Austin and his collection of brightly colored bucket hats are the unlikeliest of TikTok stars.
With more than half a million followers on the popular video sharing app, "Old Man Steve" has become a viral sensation by cooking shockingly simple dishes in his Richland Hills, Texas home. On an app dominated by young people striving to one-up each other, with a smile and a laugh, Austin manages to make even a bowl of Corn Flakes exciting.
“There’s a lot of young people on TikTok and they do a lot of physical stuff—dancing around, gymnastics, that sort of thing. Because I’m 81 years old I just can’t do that,” Austin explained to CNN. “I started out making a sandwich and I videoed it and put it on TikTok and everyone seemed to like it, so I started doing ‘Cooking with Steve.”
His "Cooking with Steve" videos, which show him making everything from turkey sandwiches to English muffins, like have been liked by nearly six million TikTok users.
"People want to know what the secret is. I don't know that there is a secret," Austin said in an interview with HLN, CNN's sister network. "You just have to be yourself and if people like you then they're going to watch you."
For a man without kids or grandkids of this own, being embraced by younger generations means a lot.
“In the comments, [young people] tell me they want me to be their grandpa, or that I remind them of their grandpa, or they call me their “’internet grandpa,’” Austin told CNN. “That makes me feel good.”