Charles Ramsey, the Internet sensation hailed as a hero for helping to rescue three women kidnapped, raped and imprisoned for a decade, has earned himself free burgers for life at more than a dozen restaurants in Cleveland, Ohio.
That's good news for Ramsey, 43, who will also enjoy free McDonald's food for one year at a restaurant a few blocks from his house, but thereafter will presumably return to paying $3.85 for a Big Mac.
Several of the participating restaurants are located outside of Cleveland and one is in Pennsylvania, The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports. One restaurant, Hodges, went so far as to name a sandwich modeled after McDonald's Big Mac the "Ramsey Burger."
"It's been wildly popular," Hodges manager Nate Gosselin told CNN Money. "It's even on our permanent new menu now."
McDonald's spokesperson Heidi Barker Sa Shekhem told U.S. News the company quietly offered Ramsey free food for a year, but did not seek publicity for fear that it would be unseemly in light of the women's ordeal. The local franchisee met with Ramsey, she said.
"We followed up directly and privately with Mr. Ramsey regarding recognition of his actions," Shekhem said in a statement distributed Thursday. "Out of respect for the survivors of this harrowing ordeal and the ongoing investigation, we have not shared publicly details of our outreach."
The statement continued: "In light of numerous inquiries today, we can confirm that the local owner-operators of the McDonald's restaurants in Mr. Ramsey's neighborhood have connected with him and offered complimentary McDonald's food for the next year. In addition, we have made a $10,000 donation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the names of Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michele Knight, the kidnapping survivors in Ohio, and Mr. Ramsey."
An employee at the local McDonald's told U.S. News he hadn't seen Ramsey at the store since the May 6 rescue propelled him to national fame.
Ramsey became an instant TV and Internet sensation after he heard cries for help from Amanda Berry, 27, from a house across the street as he was enjoying a Big Mac on his porch.
The "hero" kicked in his neighbor's door, leading to the escape of Berry - who went missing in 2003 - and her 6-year-old daughter born in captivity, and the discovery of 32-year-old Michelle Knight, missing since 2002, and 23-year-old Gina DeJesus, who vanished in 2004.
"Bro, I knew something was wrong when a little pretty white girl ran into a black man's arms," Ramsey memorably told WEWS-TV after the rescue. "Something is wrong here. Dead giveaway! Dead giveaway! Dead giveaway! Either she homeless or she got problems."
Ramsey told WKYC-TV he doesn't consider himself a hero. "I'm American and I'm a human being, I'm just like you, I work for a living," he said. "There was a woman in distress, so why turn your back on that? My father would have whooped the hell out of me if I cowered out."
Unflattering details from Ramsey's life also surfaced. The Smoking Gun reported that he was convicted and imprisoned for three instances of assaulting his now-ex-wife.
Ariel Castro, 52, is currently awaiting trial for charges including kidnapping and rape. He may face the death penalty if convicted of aggravated murder charges for allegedly beating and starving his victims to force miscarriages.