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Grandma’s wrong number text goes viral after inviting stranger to Thanksgiving dinner

Strangers are welcome at one Arizona grandma's feast.

Strangers are welcome at one Arizona grandma's feast.  (gordana jovanovic)

A Thanksgiving text invite sent to the wrong number has spawned a digital friendship—and a viral Internet sensation.

On Monday, Jamal Hinton, a 17-year-old from Phoenix, Ariz. got a text from a number he didn’t recognize inviting him for dinner next Thursday.

“Thanksgiving dinner is at my house on Nov. 24 at 3:00pm. Let me know if you’re coming. Hope to see you all. Of course that includes Amanda & Justin,” read the note. 

Hinton asked who was texting and the reply of “Your grandma,” surprised him. Thinking his grandmother had switched phones, Hinton asked for a picture to confirm.

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"I asked for a picture and she sent a picture, and I sent one back so she can confirm that I'm not her grandson and it went from there," Hinton told CBS AZ. After selfies were exchanged, the two realized the mix up.

Hinton jokingly asked if he could still "get a plate" at dinner—and his new digital friend replied, “Of course you can. That's what grandmas do...feed everyone.”

Hinton, who is African-American, was touched by the gesture, "With all the Donald Trump going on and all the racial comments going on, it's kind of good to see there's still good people out there.”

On Tuesday, Hinton’s friend posted screen shorts of the exchange between the two strangers—but didn't bother deleting the number before posting. The original tweet has since been retweeted over 190,000 times and liked 400,000 times.

The woman on the other end of the texts, Wanda Dench, was serious about her offer to Hinton—but she wasn’t prepared for the flood of messages from other strangers.

"I started getting these texts saying, 'Can I come too, Grandma? Do you have an extra plate for me?' And they were just starting to roll in and I'm like, 'What is going on?'" Dench told CBS AZ. At first, she had no idea that her exchange with Hinton was online and says she was “stunned.”

By Wednesday morning, she'd received over 650 text messages and dozens of calls and voicemails. Her daughter alerted her to the tweet from Hinton's friend-- and to the fact that she'd become an Internet sensation in a few hours. Dench has since changed her number.

"At first I thought, 'Well this is annoying,' until I started reading some people's texts who were saying thank you so much, you're such a kind person to let this young man into your home," she said. "From what I kept reading, I thought, 'Oh my gosh! I think this may be a little more important than what I thought it was.' 'Cause of all the racial tension that's in the country."

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Many who viewed the exchange online echoed Dench’s sentiments, celebrating the "cute" interaction between strangers.

So will Hinton actually make an appearance at Dench’s holiday meal? 

On Wednesday, the two new friends met in person and the grandma formally invited her message mix-up to Thanksgiving dinner. Hinton says he definitely plans to attend.