Sometimes a friendly waiter can bring out the best in people

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Image: Nicest tips ever given in restaurants

Mad Men / Warner Bros /

The $1 lottery ticket

This is probably the most famous of all tipping stories – it has even been made into a movie with Nicolas Cage and Bridget Fonda called It Could Happen to You, don't you know.


In 1984 at Sal’s Pizzeria in Yonkers, New York, a police detective called Robert Cunningham suggested to waitress Phyllis Penzo that she split the potential winnings of a $1 lottery ticket instead of a cash tip.


She agreed.


Penzo helped him to pick three of the six numbers and lo and behold, the next day the ticket was worth $7 million and it was split between the two of them. Good tip indeed.

Back to school

A Pizza Hut waitress, Jessica Osborne, from Angola, Indiana, received $10,000 to help her go to college after becoming friendly with a regular called Becky  who then disappeared into the night like some sort of educational fairy godmother. 

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Johnny Depp

Andy Templeton / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: atempletonphoto

Celeb style

Regardless of his latest box office hit-or-miss, Johnny Depp always treats his waiter right, apparently. In 2009, Radar Online reported that Depp and a group of friends took up a private room at Gibson’s Bar and Steakhouse in Chicago. When they left at 2.30am, he gave waiter Mohammed A Sekhani a $4,000 tip for his troubles. What a superstar. 

Pearly whites

Fred Boettcher is like a modern day tooth fairy. He gave Brian Mixner $25,000 at the Kansas restaurant he worked at, Doo-Dah Diner, to allow him to fix his teeth which had suffered severe dental decay.


Generous Boettcher told KWCH: “I took one look at this young man and knew he was something special.


“He carried himself with such kindness and confidence with a mouth that looked painful. I was struck by that.”


Consider those cockles well and truly warmed. 

The last wish

A Kentucky man, Aaron Collins', final wish went viral when he asked his mum and brother to leave "an awesome tip" for a waiter or waitress.


Family and friends carried out Collins’ request, tipping one waitress, Sarah Ward, at Puccini’s Smiling Teeth, a pizzeria in Lexington, Kentucky, $500.


Seth Collins, Aaron’s brother, filmed the whole thing and it has since clocked up over 3 million hits. 

Money art

What do you mean you’ve never heard of money art? There’s no better way to give a tip than with notes folded and moulded into a suited and booted man. Even better when the note has a "5" at the start of it. 

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The $12,000 tip that turned into a lawsuit

Now this is one of the more unusual tipping stories we've heard on the restaurant grapevine. Stacy Knutson, a waitress at Moorhead’s Frying Pan in Minnesota, America, stumbled upon $12,000 in cash inside a box left on the table by a customer. Lucky lady.

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Counting money

401(k) 2012 / CC-BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: 401(k) 2012

Like any good citizen would *ahem*, Knutson headed down to her local police station to hand the stash in. They told her that the money would be hers if no one claimed it within 60 days.


When she returned, she was told that it was part of a drug investigation as the money had a “strong odor of marijuana.”


She filed a lawsuit and won the right to keep this incredibly large tip.

The celebrity swindle

Ah celebrities, they’re either amazingly generous or notoriously stingy.

Rapper "The Game" treads a fine line between the two.

On Easter in 2013, he went for a meal at Capital Grilled in West Hollywood and tweeted a photo of waiter Eme Ikuakor holding a wad of cash, which he claimed was $6,000, along with the caption “My heart made me do it.”


The Easter bunny would be proud.


Turns out, he actually tipped Ikuakor $250. Now, we’re not knocking it but it’s not so tweet-worthy now, is it?

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The Game

Mikko / CC BY-SA 2.0 / adapted / Flickr: milkanen

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