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A hole inside

The Donut King traces how one big-hearted entrepreneur rose to wealth and squandered it all

Logan Industry

A hole inside
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You’d think a story about a doughnut shop entrepreneur would be sweet through and through. The new documentary The Donut King recounts Ted Ngoy’s journey from Cambodian refugee to owner of 70 California breakfast eateries. But Ngoy’s love of money would be his eventual undoing.

In 1975, Ngoy and family members came to America, parlaying long hours into substantial wealth. Ngoy’s generosity matched his work ethic. He supported and trained dozens of Cambodian immigrant families. At one point, 90 percent of California’s 5,000 independent doughnut stores were owned by Cambodians, many of whom first stirred the batter in Ngoy’s kitchens and later opened competing shops. Some tell their stories in the film. Meanwhile, Ngoy was losing all he had to gambling.

The Donut King (unrated, with several expletives) delivers more than a cautionary tale. Film footage and interviewees’ recollections revisit the horror of the Khmer Rouge’s forcible evacuation of Phnom Penh’s 2 million residents. The film also details the American people’s warmhearted response as many communities opened their doors to assimilate Cambodian refugees.

Still, it was America where Ngoy lost everything. Don’t glaze over the lesson: A man can come to ruin amid either strife or comfort.

Bob Brown

Bob is a movie reviewer for WORLD. He is a World Journalism Institute graduate and works as a math professor. Bob resides with his wife, Lisa, and five kids in Bel Air, Md.



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