CBS News - November 23, 2023 11:04 am

Jamal Hinton has spent Thanksgiving with "Grandma" every year since accidental text in 2016.

In 2016, Jamal Hinton got a text from an unknown number: “Thanksgiving dinner is at my house on Nov. 24 at 3:00.” Confused, he asked who the texter was.

“Your grandma,” the mystery messenger replied. Hinton, then a teen, asked for a picture and upon seeing a White woman who was not his grandma, he texted a photo of himself back. “You not my grandma,” wrote Hinton, who is Black. “Can I still get a plate though?”

In what has become known as one of the most wholesome viral moments on social media, the grandmother replied: “Of course you can. That’s what grandmas do…feed everyone.”

Hinton screenshot the text exchange and it received widespread attention online. He took her up on her offer and drove from Tempe, Arizona, to Mesa to celebrate with her and her family – and he’s celebrated with them every year since.

Her name is Wanda Dench and her accidental invitation to Thanksgiving dinner eight years ago led to a years-long tradition between her and Hinton – and a now-classic holiday story online. 

Jamal Hinton shares a screenshot of his hilarious conversation

From the viral text, Hinton grew a social media following and has shared updates about his relationship with Dench over the years.

Some updates are happy. Hinton started dating a woman named Mikaela, whom Dench welcomed to Thanksgiving dinner, too. Some are sad. Dench’s husband died from COVID-19 in 2020. Still, they got together that year, in a smaller gathering to honor Lonnie.

In 2023, Hinton announced on Thanksgiving that he and Dench had gone from “family” to business partners, launching an alkaline black water called BlackMP. And they don’t just hang out on Thanksgiving. He’s shared photos of them at events and dinners together at all times of the year.

This year, like the past seven, Hinton took to social media to update followers about his and Dench’s holiday plans – which may include other people. “To celebrate our eighth Thanksgiving together (yes, eight!), we’re partnering with @airbnb this year to host a couple extra seats at our table,” he wrote on Instagram. “Booking for our favorite holiday tradition opens November 14 at 11am MST at the link in our bios. Join us!”

For just $16, Hinton and Dench are offering a stay with them at a Prescott Valley home on Thanksgiving.

“Some may recognize us from our viral text mishap that led to our first Thanksgiving together back in 2016,” the description on the Airbnb listing reads. “And eight years later, we’re practically family. To commemorate our lasting friendship, we’re excited to become Airbnb Hosts and welcome new guests into our holiday tradition, creating meaningful connections in the process.” Someone has already scored the stay with the pair.

Hinton and Dench became family over a mistake – and it seems he is a magnet for accidental texts. This year, he shared a screenshot of someone mistakenly texting him, thinking he was their father. “Thanksgiving around the corner and I am still receiving text from [a] random number,” he shared on X.

CBS News has reached out to Hinton, Airbnb and BlackMP for more information and is awaiting response.


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