Today was meant to be a momentous occasion. But after he was given his “gift,” the smile quickly faded from his face.
He went through the items one by one as the camera rolled, pulling them out of the clear plastic bag and holding them up for the camera. Was this some kind of sick joke? When netizens saw the video, they completely lost it.
54-year-old Kevin Ford was born and raised in Sheffield, Alabama. When he moved to Las Vegas to find work at the age of 24, he met the woman of his dreams and settled down to start a family.
While he didn’t earn a lot of money flipping burgers at the Burger King in the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport, his wife didn’t care. All they needed was love. Or so Kevin thought.
When Kevin’s marriage started crumbling just a few years later, it was like the wool had suddenly been lifted from his eyes. But now, he had two daughters to look after.
Kevin continued to work at Burger King throughout the years so he could support his two girls. He showed up for work every day – even when he was ill or had been fighting with his wife all night long and could barely keep his eyes open. He had no idea how he’d be repaid after 27 years of this.
Even throughout years of marriage problems, Kevin remained steadfast. He was a rock. He put food on the table and put his daughters through school while his relationship with his wife deteriorated.
He didn’t know who she was anymore, but she wasn’t the woman he’d married. She had changed. After brewing for a few years, things came to a head.
It became very clear that Kevin’s wife was not fit to raise his children while he worked long hours to provide for them. Things couldn’t go on as they had been. He divorced his wife and entered into an ugly custody battle to keep his girls.
Although his personal life was in turmoil and filled with court hearings, Kevin still didn’t miss a day of work. Little did he know, Burger King still expected more.
After the long custody battle, the judge could see that Kevin’s ex-wife couldn’t care for her kids. He acknowledged the extramarital affairs and substance abuse. Although it’s unusual for a dad to win custody instead of the children’s mother, Kevin won the right to keep his daughters.
Now, he was a single dad with two children to take care of on his own. His children were his world and he’d do anything for them. Although he struggled, he managed somehow. He put his head down and prevailed.
Every day, Kevin made it to work on time to start his long shifts. He only got to spend time with his daughters in the evenings, but those were the moments he lived for.
Through thick and thin, through illness, a messy divorce, and dozens of mentally exhausting court battles, he dragged himself to work to flip burgers for Burger King. He’d done it for 27 years. Surely, his hard work would pay off eventually.
27 years later, 54-year-old Kevin had been through a lot. He wasn’t the same fresh young man who started his job at Burger King all those years ago. He was tired.
Thankfully, all of his daughters had passed high school – his youngest was married and gave him two beautiful grandkids. He was happily remarried and now had two more children. A lot had changed, but one thing remained the same.
In 1995, Kevin would have started on a minimum hourly wage of around $5,00 an hour. Now, in 2022, the average salary for a Burger King employee is around $9,86.
If you take the rising costs of living into account, Kevin’s monthly salary barely touches sides, and he hadn’t moved far up the ranks during his 27 years as a loyal employee. How would Burger King repay him?
On the 27th anniversary of becoming a Burger King employee, Kevin was presented with a clear plastic bag.
It wasn’t looking promising, but Kevin always made an effort to be grateful for what he’d been given. A fellow Burger King employee filmed his reaction on his phone as he pulled the items out of the bag one by one. What did he get?
Kevin’s smile faded from his face, betraying his real feelings as he tried to be grateful. He pulled the items out of the clear plastic bag and held them up for the camera to see.
A reusable Starbucks cup, a bag of Reece’s Pieces, a single movie ticket, and two rolls of Lifesavers. When the video went viral, the internet lost it.
The plastic bag that contained the insulting gifts had an HMS Host sticker on it. HMS Host is the multimillion-dollar restaurant chain’s parent company.
It wasn’t long before the video of Kevin’s underwhelming gifts made its way to a subreddit called ‘A Boring Dystopia,’ with the caption “This man dedicated 27 years of service to Burger-King and wasn’t even rewarded with $27 worth of trinkets in his ‘Goodie Bag.’” Netizens couldn’t stop talking about it.
‘A pension would have been a lot better than a bag of Reese’s pieces,’ one Redditor commented. ‘Nobody bought anything. Those are the giveaway bags offered at special events or by hiring managers. Corporate buys that stuff by the case to give away,’ another user wrote, aghast.
‘Burger King, like all other fast food places, are corporate thieves that will stop at nothing to profit from everyone, not to mention take advantage of young workers, which is why I don’t ever eat at any of these places,’ one user sniped.
The video also went viral on TikTok, where Burger King received scathing criticism from viewers. Viewers were even more heartbroken by Kevin’s reaction to the gift bag – he was positive and genuinely expressed gratitude.
Eventually, the video made its way to Kevin’s daughter, Seryna. She was heartbroken when she saw her hardworking father accepting the insulting gift after dedicating more than half his life to the company. She had to do something.
Seryna decided to set up a GoFundMe page for her father. He had worked so hard for so many years to make sure she and her sisters had gotten through high school and college.
Now, she wanted to repay him. ‘My name is Seryna. The man in that video is my father. He has worked at his job for 27 years and yes he has never missed a day of work,’ she wrote on the GoFundMe page.
‘He originally began working at this job as a single father when he gained custody of me and my older sister 27 years ago,’ Seryna continued.
‘Then as our family grew and he remarried, he continue to work here because of the amazing health insurance that was provided through this employer because it was unionized. Which got all four of his daughters through high school and college with full healthcare coverage.’
‘My dad continues to work here, because though he does look young, he is coming up on retirement age and leaving would cost him his retirement,’ Seryna explained.
‘In no way are we asking for money or is he expecting any money but if anyone feels like blessing him he would love to visit his grandchildren.’ She wasn’t expecting much – the goal was $200 so Kevin could buy a plane ticket to see his grandkids. Meanwhile, the controversial video continued to rack up millions of views.
‘Why is this celebrated? Great guy but give this guy 2 weeks off with pay at least,’ wrote one disgusted TikToker. Another pointed out that ‘the sad part is to see large corporations take advantage of good people like him.’
While most users were horrified by Kevin’s ‘goodie bag,’ some began to blame Kevin for his own situation – even going as far as to blame him for not leaving Burger King sooner and looking for another job.
‘Why would someone work at BK for 27 years, I understand that some people are in poverty, BUT 27 YEARS??? That’s more than enough time to look for something better,’ one user wrote.
‘Idk, I just couldn’t imagine putting myself so low that I’d allow myself to work for such a degrading job. They shouldn’t have given him anything, this is insulting.’ Once one person had leveled judgment, other users began to dogpile too.
‘Why TF would anyone stay at BK for 27 years? That’s the problem right there. You cannot do what this guy did and expect to succeed. You spend 27 years slinging low-quality reheated burgers, this is exactly what happens,’ another user commented.
‘It’s not rocket science The corporations don’t care about you and have no loyalty to you; treat them likewise. A job like this should just be a rung on a ladder, not a career.’ But, of course, it wasn’t that simple for Kevin.
Kevin had stayed in his position with Burger King because it was unionized. He benefitted from great health insurance that extended to his children while they went to school as well.
Of course, he had weighed up the pros and cons of working at Burger King, but in the end, he chose good healthcare coverage instead of a higher-paying salary. Burger King also had him under their thumb for his retirement – which he would lose if he left. And he’s not the only American in this predicament.
A recent survey by the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants revealed that 80% of the American workforce would rather choose a job with healthcare benefits than a job offering a 30% higher salary.
The rising costs of healthcare have also meant that those in a lower or middle-income bracket haven’t really seen a salary increase since the early 2000s. That’s because the rising cost of healthcare keeps eating into the raises they do get. Kevin certainly wasn’t to blame for being part of a broken system. But he had no idea things were about to change.
Kevin’s video of his underwhelming gift was still getting traction – and so was Seryna’s GoFundMe page. Kevin’s story was even getting recognition from celebrities, and it wasn’t long before the goal of $200 was shattered.
Comedian David Spade was among those who saw the TikTok video, and he donated $5,000 and sent Kevin a personal messagevia Instagram. Kevin, who is a huge fan of David’s, couldn’t believe what he was seeing. But this was just the beginning.
Burger King had noticed the bad press they were getting and rushed to do some damage control. Knowing that a video like Kevin’s could really hurt their brand, they issued a formal statement to LADbible on the matter.
“The Burger King brand and its many franchisees nationwide are committed to recognising and celebrating the achievements of the thousands of people serving across a wide range of roles — all dedicated to providing our guests a world-class experience,” the statement said. But they were only making themselves look even worse.
“Following review with this location’s franchisee, we’ve learned that this video depicts a Team Member in receipt of a peer-to-peer reward in recognition of a short-term positive performance/experience,” Burger King’s statement continued.
“The franchisee offers its team members a robust employee recognition program, which includes the recognition of tenure milestones and monetary awards.” So, the paltry ‘goodie bag’ Kevin had gotten for 27 years of service wasn’t even from Burger King’s higher management – it was from a team member.
Nevertheless, the damage to Burger King’s brand had been done. Kevin’s story elicited sympathy from people all over the globe – everybody could relate to how he had given more than half of his life to a big corporation just to get a slap in the face.
Meanwhile, the donations from kind strangers were pouring into the GoFund me account. It wasn’t long before it had amassed a whopping $250,000 in just two days… and it’s still climbing!
Kevin had become an online sensation almost overnight. He was getting calls to do interviews with the media and even asked to appear on TODAY.
“I’ve been crying for about two days now. It’s just incredible,” he said in an interview. “I just go to work and try to have fun and laugh and make other people’s day good. It’s like I’ve been in a dream for almost two days now. It’s just so beautiful and awesome. It really is.” Little did he know, the biggest surprise was still coming.
Kevin got more than 8,000 donations from kind strangers. Finally, he was getting the recognition he deserved – but it was ironic that he wasn’t getting it from Burger King.
“For all those years, you feel unappreciated, but you get up just like everybody else. You do your job, and for somebody to show this appreciation is just overwhelming,” he said on the TODAY show.
When Kevin was asked what he’s going to do with all that money, he said his top priorities were visiting his daughter Seryna and her kids, as well as paying off some of his bills.
Kevin hadn’t seen his granddaughters, who are six and eight, for four years. But the producers of the TODAY show had already taken care of that for him…
While he was doing his TODAY interview, Kevin was greeted by his daughter and granddaughters, who made a surprise appearance. Kevin immediately burst into tears: “I haven’t seen you guys in so long,” he choked as he hugged his family.
In order to protect the privacy of those depicted, some names, locations, and identifying characteristics have been changed and are products of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events or places or persons, living or dead, are entirely coincidental.