Toni Christina Jenkins
A waitress in Franklin, Tenn., recently claimed to have received a receipt from a customer with “none” writen on the tip line, as well as a derogatory racial slur written at the bottom. Now, however, a handwriting analyst speculates that the two words were not written by the same person.
Another handwriting analyst believes that the racial slur was written by the waitress herself.
Toni Christina Jenkins, a 19-year-old nursing student and server at Red Lobster, posted a photograph of the receipt on Facebook (pictured below).
“This is what I got as a tip last night...so happy to live in the proud southern states,” Jenkins posted below the photograph. “God Bless America, land of the free and home of the low class racists of Tennessee.”
After her story went viral, Matthew Hanson of AddictingInfo.org created the online fundraiser “Tips for Toni.” Internet supporters around the world reportedly raised an astounding $10,749 for the waitress.
“My initial reaction was just pure awe,” Jenkins told the Daily News after she learned of the donation. “I was just stunned and confused. I was like, ‘Wait, they are going to give that to me?’ It was a total fantasy in my mind.”
But the customer, 20-year-old Devin Barnes, denies ever writing the derogatory word.
“A lot of people on the Internet who I don’t know are calling me a racist, and I’m thinking people have their own opinion, but I know I am not a racist,” said Barnes. “I don’t see color. I have many mixed color friends.”
Barnes reportedly plans to file a lawsuit against the restaurant and the waitress. According to the Daily News, Barnes’ attorney hired forensic document examiner Thomas Vastrick to compare the handwriting on the receipt.
“I believe within a reasonable degree of certainty that the waitress actually wrote the word,” said forensic handwriting expert Bob Baier, who examined a sample of writing taken from the waitress’ Facebook account for TheDCNF.
“There is evidence to indicate that Devin Barnes did not write the total entry,” Vastrick wrote in a report. “No significant handwriting characteristic similarities were noted.”
Vastrick also examined the handwriting of Barnes’ wife and found no similarities.
Following the incident, Barnes wrote a letter in which he denied ever using the racial slur.
“I do not approve of the use of that type of talk, not now or ever,” Barnes wrote. The letter can be read in its entirety below, along with a censored close-up of the receipt.
The mystery of how a racist epithet came to be scrawled on a receipt handed to a Tennessee Red Lobster waitress has only become more muddled, as the man accused of writing the offensive word now says he plans to sue the waitress and the Red Lobster chain — and the waitress now says she believes that someone else wrote the racist word on the receipt.
The background is this: in September, Toni Christina Jenkins, a 19-year-old server at a Red Lobster franchise in Franklin, Tenn., served a $44.53 order to a 20-year-old customer named Devin Barnes and his wife. When she got the receipt back, she says, the word “none” was written on the “tip” line.
And underneath the word none, someone had scrawled the racial epithet, “N****r.”
Jenkins, who is African-American, then posted a photo of the offending receipt on her Facebook page, along with the caption, “This is what I got as a tip last night...so happy to live in the proud southern states. God Bless America, land of the free and home of the low class racists of Tennessee.”
Barnes signature was clearly visible on the the receipt posted on Facebook by Jenkins.
Then the photo, and story, went viral. Media outlets, including Opposing Views, ran with it. Jenkins received an outpouring of sympathy. In fact, that sympathy turned to hard cash. To make up for her getting stiffed on the tip by an apparent racist, people started sending her money.
In the end, her “tip” totaled $10,749. (Jenkins is pictured above with a check for that amount.)
And then the problems began.
Barnes flatly denies that he added the “N-word” to the receipt. And his attorney hired a handwriting expert to prove it.
“A lot of people on the Internet who I don't know are calling me a racist, and I'm thinking people have their own opinion, but I know I am not a racist,” Barnes said. “I don't see color. I have many mixed color friends."
In a note written after the story went national, Barnes said, “I do not approve of the use of that type of talk, not now or ever.”
He says that he and his wife have been subject to threats and harassment since his name went public in connection with the story.
"No one should go through this at all," Barnes said.
The handwriting expert found no match between Barnes’ handwriting, seen on a note written by him below, and the writing of whoever wrote the offending term on the receipt. Barnes acknowledges being a lousy tipper. He said he wrote “none” on the tip line when he and his wife had to leave in a hurry and switched their order to take-out.
The handwriting expert also ruled out Barnes’ wife as the writer of the word.
Then, a second handwriting analyst, hired by the conservative news web site The Daily Caller, examined the receipt and concluded that Jenkins herself was the perpetrator of a hoax.
“I believe within a reasonable degree of certainty that the waitress actually wrote the word,” forensic handwriting expert Bob Baier told the Daily Caller, citing similarities in Jenkins’ handwriting and the word on the receipt.
But Baier also said that his conclusion was not definitive and that more analysis was required.
Jenkins denies that she wrote the “N-word” on the receipt herself, but she now says she does not believe that Barnes wrote it either. She also says that she regrets not blacking out Barnes' name in the photo that she posted to Facebook.
While Barnes is threatening legal action, a spokesperson for Red Lobster says the chain has not been informed of any action taken so far.
Below are the original receipt and a handwritten note from Barnes.
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A waitress at a Red Lobster restaurant in Tennessee allegedly got one of the worst tips ever from a couple of racist customers. Toni Christina Jenkins, 19, was working her shift when she went to collect the payment from a couple of customers who had racked up a $45 bill. In the tip section of the receipt they had apparently written “none ni**er.”
After the incident, Jenkins went on Facebook to vent about what had happened. She also posted a photo of the racist receipt. “This is what I got as a tip last night...so happy to live in the proud southern states..God Bless America, land of the free and home of the low class racists of Tennessee,” Jenkins wrote.
Jenkins described what happened when she tried to serve the customers.
“They were extremely rude, but I introduced myself to them and they didn't respond. When I came to take their orders they simply told me they wanted their food and to put everything in a to-go box. I offered them dessert but they told me abruptly that they just wanted the check. When I went back to the table they had gone and left the receipt and had written the comments.”
After her online posting, the Red Lobster where Jenkins works suspended her on full pay. Apparently some people believe that she faked the receipt in order to profit in some way, The Daily Mail reported.
Jenkins was understandably surprised by the reaction her Facebook post created.
“It's all very surprising to me. When I posted it I thought it might get a few 'likes' from friends and family. People praying for me, that kind of thing. I didn't think it would escalate this quickly. I am just a 19-year-old nursing student.”
One doubter questioned the authenticity of the writing on the receipt:
“As a black man, I simply don't believe this is real. The word 'none' has totally different handwriting from the word 'Ni**er.' There's lots of stories lately of people making false accusations of racism or discrimination for attention. I think you should just admit you did this yourself because you were mad he didn't tip you... This poor man is innocent and I think you are racist against white people.”
Jenkins is sticking by her story.
A picture of the receipt is below: