SMALL BUSINESS

Charles Ramsey, Ohio Hero, To Get Free McDonald's For One Year; Franchise Downplays Reward

05/23/2013 06:58 pm ET
AP

Life is good for this Ohio hero.

Just one day after a group of Cleveland restaurants announced plans to give local man Charles Ramsey free burgers for life, McDonald's quietly confirmed that it will offer him free food for a year.

Ramsey's quirky interviews detailing his efforts to help free kidnapping victims Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight earlier in May made the dishwasher famous -- especially the part about him eating a McDonald's Big Mac moments before the rescue.

The three women had been abducted, held in a squalid house and abused for roughly a decade, allegedly by homeowner Ariel Castro. On May 6, Ramsey heard Amanda Berry's screams from his neighboring porch and helped break down Castro's door.

A Reddit post advocating for Ramsey to get free Big Macs for life received more than 19,000 upvotes.

When McDonald's tweeted that it would "be in touch" with Ramsey, the statement was re-tweeted thousands of times.

Following criticism that McDonald's might be benefiting from a tragedy, however, spokespeople for the chain told reporters Thursday that the reward offer had been made quietly, as a sign of respect for the victims' families.

"We followed up directly and privately with Mr. Ramsey regarding recognition of his actions," McDonald's spokeswoman Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem told The Los Angeles Times. "Out of respect for the survivors of this harrowing ordeal and the ongoing investigation, we have not shared publicly details of our outreach."

In honor of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight, McDonald's has also donated $10,000 to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.

McDonald's did not immediately respond to The Huffington Post's request for comment.

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