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Mysterious 'Tips for Jesus' leaves enormous gratuities

Servers across US have been surprised -- and delighted -- by 4-figure tips on an American Express card.

By Money Staff Dec 3, 2013 1:54PM

This post comes from Martin Merzer at partner site on MSN MoneyA secret Santa is crisscrossing the United States, bearing a credit card and an extraordinary spirit of generosity, leaving enormous tips to waiters and waitresses before ducking out of restaurants from California to Chicago.


Still life of a nearly empty tip jar © Big Cheese Photo, SuperStockWe're talking a $5,000 tip on a bill for $84.05. That's 5,984 percent of the tab. And a $10,000 tip on a $2,979.42 bill (335 percent). And a $1,000 tip on a bill for $152.76 (654 percent). And $500 on a $24 bill (2,083 percent). And a $3,000 tip on a bill for $373.36 (797 percent).


As of the latest reports, Mr. Big Spender has dropped more than $54,000 in tips on 18 fortunate servers during the past three months, accelerating his ultra-gratuity campaign as Christmas approaches. Reports of his extreme generosity have arrived from South Bend, Ind.; Ann Arbor, Mich.; Chicago; San Francisco; Southern California; and Ogden, Utah -- golf caddies benefited from that one.


He signs the credit card slips with the words "Tips for Jesus" and sometimes with a smiley face. With rare exceptions, American Express processes and accepts the charges without emitting a single objecting electron. "Tipsforjesus pays its tabs," the benefactor wrote in response to a question about the veracity of a charge slip.


'A wonderful surprise'

Hard to believe? Maybe, but believe it.


"Oh, it happened, it definitely happened," said Dan Schack, a manager at The Boundary in Chicago, which specializes in moderately priced burgers, tacos and sandwiches. It was there on one evening when a young woman who served six people at table 32 came back to pick up the credit card slip and found a $3,000 tip on a $373.36 bill.


"It's absolutely legit," Schack said. "We were skeptical when we saw it on the charge slip, but it went right through.


"Our servers work hard, this is a tough business, and to see something like that and someone rewarded like that -- it was a complete surprise, a wonderful surprise," Schack said. "It gives you a really nice feeling to know that someone would do something like that."


Tipper leaves few clues

So who is this mysterious spender? A sports star? An Internet billionaire? A really hungry fellow who's taking the Secret Santa thing to the max? USA Today reported that the restaurants in question have not identified the card user or users.


The clues are few, but here they are:


Mr. Spender is said to be a young man, possibly in his 30s. He's often accompanied by two or more friends or associates. Anecdotal evidence suggests that they live in California. He carries that American Express card, apparently an exclusive black Amex "Centurion" card, which is issued only to high rollers and must be getting pretty well worn by now.


He and his friends appear to be sports fans, as some of his gratuity-related binges seem to occur in association with sporting events. On Oct. 19, at a restaurant in South Bend, Ind., the home of the University of Notre Dame's Fighting Irish, he wrote "Fight On!" on a credit card slip that turned golden, with a $5,000 tip on an $84.05 bar tab. That day, the University of Southern California Trojans, who use the motto "Fight On," played a football game at Notre Dame.


His tastes are eclectic, ranging from burgers to "Patron Bourdou Gimlet" cocktails at $102.50 each and shots of Macallan 30 Scotch whisky at $100.50 each.


Aside from occasionally running up enormous tabs, including one food and drink bill for $2,979.42 (before tip) and another for $6,818,63 (including the restaurant's standard 20 percent gratuity, which our generous tipper augmented with an additional $5,000), Mr. Spender and his associates never attract special attention to themselves -- until they leave. They generally slip out of the restaurants before they can be thanked by their reliably astonished servers.


Mr. Spender signs the credit card slips as "Tips for Jesus," often including the word "Instagram" and sometimes a smiley face. In recent weeks, a rubber stamp has been used to endorse the credit card slips with "Tips for Jesus," perhaps in an attempt to cloak the benefactor's handwriting. Nothing else seems overtly religious about him or his activities.


Yes, it's on Instagram

Interestingly, despite his general anonymity and this being the age of social media, he and the people he rewards have been posting the credit card slips, joyful photos of enriched servers and general comments on an Instagram page.


One comment says: "Truly amazing what you are doing dude! God really does pay you back when you do things like this. So cool!"


Another: "You should go to the Monterrey Cafe in Downtown Spokane, WA and ask for Jennifer who is a single mom."


And a third: "Shoooott need a hair cut?! Hair stylist love tips too haha. Very generous of you!"


Often, Mr. Spender's generosity ends up touching a restaurant's entire staff of servers. That's what happened on Nov. 20 at The Hungry Cat in Hollywood, Calif., an upscale seafood place where a whole lobster goes for $50 and an ounce of golden trout roe will set you back about $40.


There, Mr. Spender and two friends sat at table 60 and were served by a young woman named Roxanne. Their bill came to $265.96, including tax. The tip: $1,000 (376 percent).


"I've worked in South Beach in Miami and I've seen some people leave large tips, but never anything like that," said manager Becky Graziano, who was on duty that night. "It was three guys, but they seemed just like any three guys. We never really took a good look at them, and they left before Roxanne picked up the slip.


"She was surprised, that's for sure, but we're a 'pooled house,' so the servers share their tips with the house," Graziano said. "It was a really good night for everyone."


We bet. Anything else you'd like to say about this, Ms. Graziano?


"You know, with Christmas coming," she said, "this tells me that people have good hearts. They're not all Scrooges out there."


More from



Dec 3, 2013 5:00PM
I would SO love to do that for people if I had the means to do so.  I would love walking away and imagining the joy and happiness I just left behind.  I wouldn't have to see it. Just thinking about it would make me smile and feel whole! Bless you mystery man and your friends who are in on it!
Dec 3, 2013 5:35PM
It doesn't matter who he is...what matters is that this gentleman has the means to do it and it obviously make him feel good to share the wealth with people.....good for him!!

Last week the wife and I were out for dinner and there were two soldiers dining, their dufflebags by their booth. I told the waitress I would pick up their dinner tab, my way of saying thank you for their service to our country......That extra $50 it cost me was worth every penny!!

Dec 3, 2013 5:20PM

Praise the Lord for "The Big Spender for Jesus!" As God tells us in Matthew 6, "store up our treasures in heaven not here on earth.

Blessings Brother..

Dec 3, 2013 4:54PM
WOW!!! What a very nice thing to do. May GOD contunue to Bless you Mr. Spender as you are blesing others.
Dec 3, 2013 5:47PM
"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it."
-- HEBREWS 13:2 --
Dec 3, 2013 5:09PM
funny that his generosity cannot just be accepted without people trying to figure out WHO is doing it.  If he wanted someone to know he would tell them.  The receivers should just enjoy the gift/blessing and leave the rest to the universe.  Why is so important to some folks to  know who is being kind to others?
Dec 3, 2013 2:27PM
Wouldn't the credit card have his name on it?
Dec 3, 2013 3:58PM
I just read an article on (in South Bend, IN) concerning the $10,000 tip left at Legends of Notre Dame in South Bend, IN on Oct 19 by this same person or group.  This bar is owned by the University of Notre Dame and guess what?  The waitstaff & bartenders still have not received any of this tip.  You can read the article at..ok, have tried twice to "mask" the link but it still isn't showing up.  Just go to and the article is titled "Bartenders still waiting on $10,000 tip left by mystery men".  Perhaps MSN should have mentioned this in this article!
Dec 3, 2013 5:01PM
Thank you big spender and Tips for Jesus is beautiful. What a great way to show God there is still good in the world. And what great time of year Christmas and Thanksgiving Thankful for what we have and now the time of our Saviors birth. 
Dec 3, 2013 4:41PM
It's really nice to know that there are these kind of people out there. I used to be a waitress and I depended on tips to help me get by. I've had some really great servers when I've gone out to eat and I know the importance of a good (or at least fair) tip. If I had the money, I would tip them even better. My hat's off to this guy!!
Dec 3, 2013 3:27PM
if he's signing the credit card bills "tips for jesus" then that's probably on the card.  how else could he keep doing this without someone releasing his name?  wonderful what he's doing though but the bigger he gets more people will be asking him to come to their restaurant and turn a positive into a negative. hopefully that won't happen!
Dec 3, 2013 5:11PM
WOW ... Your light is definitely shining !!  Follow your heart ... So happy that you are capable and willing to give of yourself to others ...
Dec 3, 2013 5:13PM
The restaurants have not released the name on the slip. The name might be on the slip, but they might be choosing not publicly say it and if that is the case I applaud the restaurants that have gotten these for keeping it private too, which is what it looks like the cardholder wants too.
Dec 3, 2013 5:25PM

Im happy for these people and would do the same if I were blessed with that kind of wealth However, I really do not care for a "Pooled house" when it comes to tips. There are always some that do not  carry their weight and know that they dont have too because they get from the top performers. Here is the quote from the article if you missed it::


"She was surprised, that's for sure, but we're a 'pooled house,' so the servers share their tips with the house," Graziano said. "It was a really good night for everyone."


Did you catch that? The SERVERS share with the rest of the HOUSE... Cooks , Bartenders, Dishwashers, and yes even sometimes managers..... Some states have made this illegal.

Dec 3, 2013 5:00PM
shame on Univ. de Notre Dame. Hope fully some news service or feed will investigate and the responsible authority into giving up the money to those, and only to those  for whom it was intended (i.e., not some loophole by which some of it ends up in UND coffers.) Hope that the wonderful deeds by "Tips for Jesus" encourage more people to pay it forward in whatever manner they can afford.
Dec 3, 2013 2:39PM
Perhaps the meaning for "Tips for Jesus" would hint that 10% of that should go to the church of one's choice or an offering to the poor in the form of a charity. Whatever, it was meant for, it was certainly a very generous tip to someone who works for low wages. My hat is off to those who really care enough.
Dec 3, 2013 5:30PM

That is so incredible, a sign that this guy know that when you are blessed with something you should share it! Amen to him, hats off to the spirit of the season.

Dec 3, 2013 5:10PM
It will be interesting to see if Uncle Sam steps in to claim his "fair share" of the tips. 
Dec 3, 2013 4:52PM
Hey Keystone Warrior. Me thinks that you are being bigoted, and or generalizing ? Can't you just be positive and thankful that there are still a few people out there who think of others ;generous , good hearted people ?
Dec 3, 2013 5:22PM

"The Boundary in Chicago, which specializes in moderately priced burgers, tacos and sandwiches. It was there on one evening when a young woman who served six people at table 32 came back to pick up the credit card slip and found a $3,000 tip on a $373.36 bill"


I'm apparently eating at low end burger joints!  373/6=62 per person.  That's a pricey burger!!!!!!


Kudos to the mystery tipper!  Great way for someone to have a very happy holiday!!! 

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