Cleveland - The man made famous for putting down his Big Mac
to help free three women held captive for about a decade in a Cleveland house
will never have to buy a hamburger in his hometown again.
More than two weeks after Charles Ramsey became an instant
folk hero after telling his story to television reporters, Cleveland food
blogger Michelle Venorsky said on Thursday that 15 restaurants are offering him
a free hamburger, whenever he wants it.
Venorsky floated the idea to her followers after seeing
Ramsey’s first interview on TV.
"He was so entertaining...I thought he should never have to
pay for another meal in Cleveland again," Venorsky said in a phone interview.
Since his first interview on local TV, Ramsey, a dishwasher
at a Cleveland restaurant, has become an Internet sensation. The restaurant
produced a t-shirt with Ramsey’s face and the words “Cleveland Hero” on the
front, netting $21 000 for a fund set up for the women, who were held captive
for about a decade.
Ramsey was not available for comment on Thursday. He has had
brushes with the law in the past, including domestic violence convictions.
Amanda Berry, her six-year-old daughter, and two other
women, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight, were discovered in the house of former
school bus driver Ariel Castro on May 6. Ramsey heard Berry’s calls for help
and he and others helped her escape and call 911.
Castro has been charged with multiple counts of kidnapping
and rape. He is in jail on an $8 million bond.
Happy and safe
One restaurant owner, Sam McNulty, said the offer of free
burgers to Ramsey “is a communal high-five from the Cleveland restaurant
The kidnapping story has several fast food connections.
Ramsey’s story, with its mention of a McDonald’s hamburger,
won him praise from the restaurant chain.
After the discovery of the women, Castro was arrested in
front of a McDonald’s about a mile from the house.
As a school bus driver, Castro was once accused of leaving a
child alone on a bus, telling the child “lie down, bitch”, while he visited a
Also, a neighbour reported seeing Castro park his school bus
outside the house and bring a large bag of fast food and several drinks inside,
even though he was thought to live alone. The neighbour said his mother called
police, who warned Castro not to park his school bus outside the house.
Lawyers said in a statement on behalf of the three women
that they are “happy and safe and continue to heal”.