SYRACUSE, Utah (ABC4) – We bet you can’t guess how many grandkids one Utah man has – hint: it’s more than double the population of Salt Lake City. 

72-year-old Craig and Liz Hansen have been married for 32 years. Liz married Craig after his first wife passed away, leaving him a widower with six kids. 

“The first time we went to the grocery store together, we were dating and he was getting groceries for the week and he asked me if I’d pick up the milk,” Liz said. “Coming from a family with one sibling and two parents, I picked up a gallon of milk and brought it back and he said, Well, that’s a good start. Will you go back and get ten more?”

Now over 3 decades later, Craig seems like your typical grandpa, but he’s a bit different. 

Craig has 491,000 grandkids. 491,000 “virtual” grandkids, that is. This year, Grandpa Craig went viral. 

A few years ago, Craig used to read books to his biological grandkids every Saturday, but once the COVID19 Pandemic hit, in-person wasn’t an option. 

“Somebody said, ‘You need to start a YouTube channel and read the comics to your grandchildren on YouTube,’” Craig said. “So that’s what we did. We started a YouTube channel.”

For 3 years, they had almost no views, until social media influencer Cole Caetano, @karvetv on TikTok, found Craig’s account and shared it with his own followers.

Overnight, their follower count grew. They went from 2 to 3 views a video to thousands. 

“There are really no words to describe it,” Liz said. “It was just totally amazing, baffling. We were just speechless.”

Craig and Liz make videos where they share life advice, read comics, and dance together. They are both technically retired, but they’ve taken on the role of “internet Grandma and Grandpa” as a full-time job. 

“We do feel like they’re our grandchildren,” Craig said. “We wish we could just gather them all up in our arms and give him a big hug.”

It’s a job where the impact goes beyond the screen. 

“I got a comment one day from somebody that says, ‘I’ve been thinking about suicide and I watched your video today and I decided that life is worth living. Thanks, Grandpa, for being there,’’’ Craig said. “It only takes one of those to make it worthwhile.”  

The Hansen’s virtual grandkids live all over the world in places like Turkey, India, and Taiwan. 

Craig and Liz say they have no end goal. They plan to keep making videos as long as their “grandkids” want them to. 

You can watch Craig and Liz’s on their YouTube channel, “Grandpa Reads the Comics.”