A former CFO is now on food stamps after a video he posted on YouTube two and half years ago criticizing Chick-Fil-A went viral and destroyed his career.
Adam Smith, 37, was the CFO of a medical device manufacturer in Arizona, until the summer 2012, when he — and thousands of other people — started protesting against Chick-Fil-A for the fast-food chain’s anti-gay stance.
One day, Smith decided to go through the drive-thru at his local Chick-Fil-A, where he ordered a free water — the fast food chain offers customers free water — and videotaped himself telling the drive-thru attendant how much he despised Chick-Fil-A.
“Chick-Fil-A is a hateful corporation,” Smith said, in part, to the drive-thru attendant. “I don’t know how you live with yourself and work here. I don’t understand it. This is a horrible corporation with horrible values. You deserve better.”
Smith then posted the video on his personal YouTube channel, but when he got back to work, he received a major shock.
“I got into work and the receptionist, the first thing, big eyes, ‘Adam, what did you do?’ … she said, ‘The voicemail is completely full, and it’s full of bomb threats,'” Smith said in an exclusive interview with ABC News’ “20/20.”
Smith was fired that same day. He said at the time he was earning $200,000 annually and had over $1 million in stock options.
“It was taken when I lost my employment,” he said.
After losing his job, Smith, his wife Amy and their four children also lost their home. They were forced to sell and give away their possessions and move into an RV. A few months later, Smith found a new CFO job in Portland, Oregon. It was the fresh start he needed.
“I felt like, ‘Yeah, I got it. I am back,'” Smith said.
About two weeks later, Smith was fired from that job after his new boss discovered he was the guy from the Chick-Fil-A video. Smith told “20/20” in subsequent job interviews, he was very honest about the video and while prospective employers seemed empathetic and understanding in the end the companies would rescind the offers saying they didn’t want the distraction.
Looking back at the video now, Smith said he was emotional.
“I don’t regret the stand I took, but I regret… the way I talked to her,” he told “20/20.”
He even apologized to the drive-thru attendant he was angry with in another video posted to his YouTube channel, which also went viral. She has forgiven him. But Smith says even people who agreed with his pro-gay opinions won’t hire him.
“I think people are scared,” Smith said. “I think people are scared that it could happen again.”
Kevin O’Leary, an entrepreneur and panelist on the hit ABC show “Shark Tank,” said he always looks up potentially employees online before hiring them.
“Every time I look at hiring somebody, I go and gather their digital footprint from every source I can get,” O’Leary said. “We look at who they are online, and we actually hire them in our minds before we actually ever meet them. And so the interview process is to just prove what we have already assessed online.”
O’Leary warns that all the emails, texts, tweets, selfies and status updates we send out into the world can be career threatening.
Smith, with his spotty digital footprint, is still looking for a job nearly three years later, and has turned to meditation. He has also just written a new memoir, “A Million Dollar Cup of Water,” detailing how his public shaming led him from riches to rags and the intensive soul search for healing.
Smith said he doesn’t know if his viral video will ever go away. “It feels like it just happened,” he said.
By JOSEPH DIAZ and LAUREN EFFRON via 20/20
ABC News’ Nick Watt contributed to this report.