Sleepless in Austin: Tom Hanks helped a man propose to his girlfriend at the Texas Book Festival

Tom Hanks popped the question to a fan at the Texas Book Festival.
(Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

Actor and recent debut author Tom Hanks turned a Q&A session at the Texas Book Festival into a scene reminiscent of one of his romantic comedies on Saturday, helping a man propose to his girlfriend.

Hanks was at a sold-out event at the book festival in Austin, Texas, discussing his first collection of short fiction, “Uncommon Type.” After answering a few audience questions, the actor announced that he had a question of his own.

As the Associated Press reports, Hanks asked the question on behalf of fan Ryan McFarling, who was at the event with his girlfriend, Nikki Young. The question: “Nikki, will you marry me?”


Nikki said yes.

The Texas Book Festival posted pictures of the happy couple at the special moment and posing later with Hanks on its Twitter account.

National Book Award finalist Min Jin Lee, author of “Pachinko,” was among those who witnessed the proposal. She posted a picture of kiss between the newly engaged couple on Twitter.

The moment was extra special for Young — she told the San Antonio Express-News that Hanks has been her idol since the days of “Bosom Buddies,” the sitcom that helped make Hanks a star. She said she even has a small “shrine” to the actor in her home.

“In all the years that I have dreamed of meeting Tom Hanks, never in my wildest dreams did I ever think it would come like this, in the most magical way — as a co-star in our love story,” Young said.


McFarling praised Hanks for being game to participate in the proposal. “Tom put his arm around Nikki’s shoulder,” McFarling recalled. “He looked at her, at me and the crowd, and said, ‘We can all see that this is a very lucky man. We can also see that she could do a little better.’”

Hanks follows in the footsteps of musician and actress Carrie Brownstein, who was asked, without warning, to marry two fans at a 2015 book event in Pasadena. Brownstein, who is an ordained minister, concluded the evening — which was, coincidentally, held in a church — by officiating at an impromptu wedding for the pair.

In Texas, McFarling and Young have yet to set a wedding date, but they plan to invite Hanks to the big event.