Caine Monroy (Source: cainesarcade.com)It has been one heck of a week for nine-year old Caine Monroy.
Since the story of his handmade cardboard arcade first surfaced on Tuesday, he's become one of the most popular figures on the Internet. Pretty much every major news outlet has written or aired a story about him. The arcade is certain to be standing room only when it opens on Saturday. And as for his collegiate future?
That's pretty much taken care of now.
Tuesday morning, the college fund launched by filmmaker Nirvan Mullick (who introduced the world to Caine) stood at $10,000. Today, it has already topped $140,000 -- and that number is escalating at hundreds of dollars every few minutes.
As for Caine, he's taking the attention in stride. As you might imagine, his excitement levels are off the chart, but he still seems as grounded and innocent as he was before this tidal wave of attention crashed down on top of him.
"I'm proud - because I have my own arcade," he told NBC News.
"He just goes along like regular kid," George Monroy, Caine's father, told Yahoo! Games. "He doesn't really think about everyone wanting to talk with him. He's very comfortable talking to adults. He always has been."
The notoriety has come from all corners. The phone at George's store, which used to ring with people hoping to place orders for car parts, is now buzzing off the hook with well wishes for Caine. The budding entrepreneur has even been spotted and approached at local stores.
"We were walking through the mall and people kept saying 'Hi Caine' and 'Can I take your picture?" says Monroe.
About the only place his fame hasn't spread, ironically, is his school. On Tuesday, when the story of Caine's Arcade was exploding across the web, only two kids had heard about it.
When told how much money the site had raised, Caine immediately began trying to figure out how many Fun Passes he would have had to sell to reach that amount, Mullick told NPR.
Though the money raised is earmarked for college, George says he hopes to use some of it to help his son improve his education now to better prepare him for higher learning.
"It's going to be a big help because he needs as much tutoring and extra help as he can get," he says. "He's very creative, but he lacks some skills and I hope he can get the help he needs through a tutor or a private school."
As many as a thousand people are expected to line up at Caine's Arcade this Saturday — and while George admits to some initial trepidation about having that many strangers around his child, he says he has been overwhelmed by their kind nature.
"So far everyone comes here with love and they want to congratulate him," he says. "There haven't been any wisecrackers coming over."