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#AlexFromTarget: A Primer On North Texas Teen Who Went Viral

Target sent out a tweet with this image earlier in November. Alex Lee of Frisco is the teen behind the #AlexFromTarget online craze.

Have you heard the online craze about Alex from Target? He’s real -- and he's from North Texas. He’s had a wild November.

Let’s recap the main events.

Alex Lee was just a normal suburban teenager, working a side job at a Target in Frisco, ringing up groceries and clothes. Life for the Frisco 16-year-old changed Nov. 2 when this photo was shared on social media.

People went crazy. Girls started to approach his register, taking pictures. The hashtag #alexfromtarget emerged -- and it started to trend on Twitter.

Alex sent out a tweet:

On Nov. 3, Target sent out this tweet:

On Nov. 4, Target released a statement:

We value Alex as a team member and from the first moment we saw this photo beginning to circulate, we shared that the Target team was as surprised as anyone.  That remains the truth today.  Let us be completely clear, we had absolutely nothing to do with the creation, listing or distribution of the photo.

Alex flew to Los Angeles to appear on Ellen DeGeneres' TV show:

Earlier this week, Alex appeared on CNBC to talk about the power of social media:

"It's definitely changed a lot," he told CNBC. "It's pretty overwhelming, actually."

Alex wants to do something positive with all of the publicity.

"We're just constantly talking about how we can influence other people in a positive way and just, I guess, make things better for other people of my generation," he told CNBC.

As of Thursday, Alex had more than 700,000 Twitter followers.

On Thursday, Alex was featured in The New York Times:

Nick Bilton reports that Alex's parents describe him as a “sweet kid.”

“He’s shy and exceedingly polite,” Bilton wrote. “He often chuckles to himself after speaking.”

There is a downside to the fame.

Alex told The Times he doesn’t go out in public. There have been death threats on social media.

The Times reports:

People have leaked the family’s personal information online, including Social Security numbers, bank accounts and phone records. The family, worried for the safety of Alex and his five siblings, has been in contact with the local police. Alex’s parents have met with his school’s principal and security officers, as well as Target managers, to put together security plans in case of an emergency.

Alex is still working at Target, although he’s not working as a cashier -- at least for now. Instead, The Times says, he’s back in the stockroom.

Eric Aasen is KERA’s managing editor. He helps lead the station's news department, including radio and digital reporters, producers and newscasters. He also oversees, the station’s news website, and manages the station's digital news projects. He reports and writes stories for the website and contributes pieces to KERA radio. He's discussed breaking news live on various public radio programs, including The Takeaway, Here & Now and Texas Standard, as well as radio and TV programs in New Zealand and the United Kingdom.