BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — At least 34 million people more people know about Valentino Dixon's story, thanks to former President Barack Obama.
On Wednesday, Obama posted a picture on Instagram of him receiving Dixon's artwork from Michelle Obama for Christmas. An image of the 20" x 30" drawing was shown to him on his tablet, as the former First Family celebrated Christmas in Hawaii.
"It's an incredible piece, but the story behind it is even better," Obama wrote in the caption.
Within an hour of being posted, the picture already had more than 400,000 likes.
"Valentino grew up in Buffalo, New York, and developed a great skill and passion for drawing from a young age," wrote Obama. "Unfortunately, when he was 21, he was wrongfully convicted for a crime he didn't commit and sentenced to a minimum of 38 1/2 years in prison."
A judge vacated Dixon's murder conviction in September 2018 after he served 27 years in prison. But to get to that point, a team from Georgetown University spent years re-examining evidence in the case, and Golf Digest was helping Dixon's profile grow through stories about his drawings in the magazine.
"Today, Valentino travels extensively to share his story and promote the need for criminal justice reform. And thankfully, for me and for so many others, he continues to draw," wrote Mr. Obama.
Scripps station WKBW was first to share that the former First Lady had purchased one of Dixon's drawings as a Christmas gift to President Obama. She had seen his story on HBO's Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, and wanted to surprise Obama with a golf drawing, according to Dixon, who sold Mrs. Obama a picture of the 12th hole of Augusta National Golf Club.
"I'm so proud to have one of his works to display," wrote Obama.
When asked about the significance of Mrs. Obama's purchase, he said "it doesn't get any better."
It might just have gotten a little bit better. Consider this the icing on the cake.
This article was written by Ashley Rowe for WKBW.