Hunter Lee leans on the rail at the Nick Denes Field during the WKU V Charlotte game on Friday, April, 28, 2023. “I love watching baseball and softball, I typically stay longer than most people.” (Photo by Preston Jenkins)
“I could not believe it”: Hunter Lee’s rise to fame
The Hill is home to a TikTok star, whose videos sometimes reach over 1 million views. Self-proclaimed weather podcaster and social media star Hunter Lee, a sophomore from Chickamauga, Georgia, started his TikTok journey during the coronavirus pandemic in 2020. Since then, he has continued to attend and cover almost every game on campus as well as weather content.
Before switching to TikTok, Hunter Lee created and shared weather content on Facebook and Snapchat. In particular, he covered the Easter Tornado that impacted Tennessee, Alabama and Georgia on a Sunday in 2020.
Afterwards, he decided he wanted to switch to TikTok where he could post longer weather videos and attract more viewers.
Hunter Lee made his first viral TikTok video during a vacation in Gatlinburg, Tennessee, in 2022 after eight inches of snow fell. He captured the snowstorm and posted it on TikTok. Within several days, the video reached 30,000 views.
When Hunter Lee decided to attend WKU, he declared a major in meteorology and attended his first football game. A downpour began during the game. He quickly recognized the center of the storm was located only over the stadium. While his content focused on weather, he started filming his experience at the football game and discussed the storm’s location. The next day, he woke up to 100,000 views.
“After posting the video, I woke up the next day and didn’t look at the video until I got to my English class when all of my classmates came up to me and told me I was famous,” Hunter Lee said. “Before the end of the day, my video was at 1 million views, and I could not believe it.”
Since Hunter Lee’s first viral video, he has continued to post on his TikTok and capture his experience at WKU. Now, he is closing in on 10,000 followers and continues to gain more viewers daily.
His social media presence has opened many opportunities. First, he interviewed with WBKO, a news channel in Bowling Green, about game-time weather. Then he recorded with the Topper Talk podcast, a fan-produced podcast for WKU athletics.
Hunter Lee does food reviews and promotes G Dogs, a restaurant in Bowling Green. Every time he promotes the restaurant, he gets free food.
Hunter Lee’s father, Michael Lee from Ringgold, Georgia, always tries to get involved in everything his son is doing. From little league to band to church and now TikTok, Michael Lee and his wife have always stood by their son’s side.
Hunter Lee and his father share a love for TikTok and often appear in each other’s videos. Just like his son, Michael Lee has also reached one million views on a video he has created. Michael Lee said their whole family is always there for each other whether on or off social media.
“We have always tried to support Hunter in everything he wanted to participate in,” Michael Lee said. “We want him to believe that he can do anything he puts his mind to.”
Michael Lee said that at a young age, Hunter Lee knew he wanted to be a meteorologist, and it has been awesome to watch him follow his dream.
In high school, he was a class speaker for his graduation. Hunter Lee got up on the stage and told his classmates that he was going to become a meteorologist no matter what it took.
“I’m different from other people because I have Asperger’s, a high-functioning form of autism, which is a big part of my journey for learning who I am,” Hunter Lee said. “It’s crazy to me that I have gained so many supporters through TikTok because I work extremely hard just to make it through class without having a meltdown.”
Michael Lee said that Hunter Lee’s content shows his true personality, which will help when he wants to be featured on TV in the future. Michael Lee feels proud when he visits WKU and witnesses people stopping to talk to him, whether students, faculty or parents.
“It’s really important to me and my wife for people to see that even a small-town kid with Asperger’s can flourish in the right environment,” Michael Lee said. “He struggled in high school to be seen for who he was, and it’s so awesome to see him get the recognition we have always seen in him.”
Hunter Lee has gained many supporters throughout his TikTok journey. He said professors ask him about his TikTok as well as the Department of Earth, Environmental and Atmospheric Sciences.
“I have gained followers and supporters from my TikTok from people who don’t even attend WKU which I think is really cool,” Hunter Lee said. “I have people reaching out to me all the time telling me that because of my videos, I have turned them into a WKU fan.”
Students frequently approach Hunter Lee asking for pictures, he said. At football games, he even has students from the opposing teams ask him for a picture.
“I get shocked every time someone asks for a picture with me because that has never happened before,” Hunter Lee said.
Tyler Fernandez, a sophomore from Nashville, met Hunter Lee when they were both on the Red Wave Executive Board last year. Fernandez said working with him was a great experience.
“Hunter has an energetic personality from my standpoint and is a guy that genuinely enjoys his work,” Fernandez said. “He is a good friend and when he is struggling, he comes to me, and I try my best to help out in every scenario.”
Fernandez said that he is proud of Hunter Lee for being himself when he makes his content. Fernandez always enjoys getting on TikTok and seeing the different things he has posted on his platform and when he meets new people.
“Many football players enjoy his content and he has become good friends with them,” Fernandez said. “He has even done interviews with the head coach of volleyball, Travis Hudson.”
Hunter Lee said he has made friends from all over the world due to his social media presence. His comments on TikTok are often filled with people who support him and want to become friends.
“Sometimes I feel like I am living in a fairytale and I wake up and ask myself if it’s actually real because in middle school and high school, I had trouble learning and making friends,” Hunter Lee said. “I just never thought something like this would happen to me.”
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