He couldn’t believe that this was intended to be one of the most important events in his life. His smile quickly vanished from his face, though, once they gave him the “present.”
He examined each of the gifts that were received and made sure to display them all to the cameraman. He could not help but feel foolish. However, things quickly turned south once the internet saw the video.
All They Needed
Kevin Ford, a 54-year-old, lived in Sheffield, Alabama. He left the small town to pursue greater things and decided to move to Las Vegas at the age of 24. He met his soulmate there, and the pair started a family.
In the Las Vegas McCarran International Airport Burger King, he didn’t earn much money flipping burgers, but his wife didn’t mind. It only took love for them to be happy. At least, that’s what Kevin thought.
He Did His Best
A few years later, Kevin’s marriage began to fall apart, and it seemed like the covers had been suddenly removed from his eyes. However, he was now responsible for two daughters.
Kevin kept his job at Burger King so that he could take care of his daughters. He never skipped a day; even when he was sick, he made sure to be there. After 27 years of this, he had no idea how he would be compensated.
Trouble In Paradise
Kevin didn’t waver despite his marriage having troubles for years. He was unmovable. He supported his children’s education and put food on the table even as his marriage to his wife failed.
He had lost track of who she was, but she was not who he fell in love with. She was different. Things culminated after simmering for a while.
They Wanted More
It quickly became apparent that Kevin’s wife was unqualified to care for their children while he put in long hours to support them. The status quo was no longer possible. He got a divorce from his wife and fought bitterly for custody of his daughters.
Kevin didn’t miss a day of work regardless of his turbulent personal life and court hearings. Despite his best efforts, Burger King still expected more.
A Lot Of Responsibility
The judge could see from the protracted custody dispute that Kevin’s ex-wife was incapable of raising her children. He acknowledged his use of drugs and adulterous affairs. The girls were allowed to stay with Kevin even though it’s rare for the father of the children to be granted custody rather than the mother.
He now had two kids to care for on his own as a single father. He would do everything for his kids because they were his entire universe. It was difficult, but he managed in some way. He remained focused and made it work.
Kevin arrived at the establishment promptly each day to begin his lengthy hours. Even though he could only see his girls in the evenings, he cherished those times.
While he battled illness, a messy divorce, and dozens of mentally exhausting court hearings, he worked for Burger King, flipping hamburgers every single day without fail. He had been doing it for 27 years. He would surely reap the benefits of his hard work in the end.
In the 27 years since Kevin had left home, he had experienced a great deal. His personality was no longer the same as when he started working for Burger King so many years ago. Tiredness plagued him.
Fortunately, all of his daughters had graduated from high school; the youngest had gotten married and given birth to two adorable granddaughters. He had happily remarried and was the father of two more kids. One thing stayed the same despite all the changes.
Kevin would have started in 1995 with a starting salary of about $5,00 per hour. The average pay for a Burger King employee in 2022 is currently $9,86.
Given the escalating cost of living, Kevin’s monthly salary hardly covers his expenses, and after working for the company for 27 years, he hasn’t advanced very far in the ranks. How would Burger King give him a reward?
Kevin received a clear plastic bag as a gift on his 27th anniversary as a Burger King employee.
Although things weren’t looking good, Kevin always tried to be appreciative of what he had. As he took the products out of the bag one at a time, a different Burger King employee recorded his response on his phone. What did he receive?
What Was In The Bag?
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.
Shame On Burger King
‘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 my older sister and me 27 years ago,’ Seryna continued.
‘Then, as our family grew and he remarried, he continued 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.
Taken Advantage Of
‘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, and this is insulting.’ Once one person had leveled judgment, other users began to dogpile too.
The Blame Game
‘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.
Slave To The Wage
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 Broken System
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 message on Instagram. Kevin, who is a huge fan of David’s, couldn’t believe what he was seeing. But this was just the beginning.
Forced Into A Corner
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 recognizing 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.
Looking 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.
Outpouring Of Support
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.
Finally, Some Appreciation
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 was 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.