Where there’s smoke, there just has to be fire. Which is why we’ve all been stymied by the mysterious rash of overly generous tips that have been popping up in restaurants, coffee shops and bars across the nation. On a lot of those receipts, there’s a unifying addition scrawled after tips of $1,000 or $3,000: “Tips for Jesus.” So who is this big tipper — or tippers — making the fires?
San Francisco Magazine sat down for a one-on-one interview with The Tipper, as we’ll call him, the supposed ringleader and instigator for the Tips for Jesus movement (let’s call it TFJ from now on). While it seems that the tippers have now spread out to be more than just this guy and his pals, many people have been wondering about this guy.
He’s not identifying himself, so for now this is all we’ve learned about him from the interview.
10 Things We Learned About The Tips For Jesus Ringleader
1. He likes “utilitarian, non-name brand coffee spots” that are “acceptable but not with outstanding Yelp reviews.” So hey, maybe get a job at that kind of place if you want a big tip.
2. He wears nice clothes because duh, he can afford to hand out big tips, but he’s still a nice guy: He’s “uncommonly well dressed” but also “forthright, funny and warm.”
3. So far TFJ campaigns have left more than $130,000 nationally in big tips.
4. The first one was at a bar in Ann Arbor, Michigan, after he was feeling generous with friends for a reason he doesn’t remember, and gave a $3,000 tip on an $87.98 check. And of course, posted a photo of the receipt to Instagram.
5. The TFJ Instagram account has 71,069 followers (as of this morning).
6. It’s not actually about Christianity, despite that popular opinion (because when you mention Jesus, it does seem, you know, Christian) — “The movement we have started is intended to be agnostic.”
7. It’s unclear how many people are tipping — “Here you have a clearly affluent person (or people) anonymously giving money to individuals (servers, bussers, cooks) who presumably could use it.”
8. The whole thing is supposed to be a guerrilla effort to help people, and create copycats to do the same. And it’s fun.
“It’s just about helping people out,” The Tipper says. “It’s not hard to give back”—to tip a little extra, pay for someone else’s drink, engage in small acts of kindness, even if it’s at a level somewhere below tens of thousands of dollars. “When justified by great service, magnanimous gratuities are achievable by everyone—no excuses.”
9. It provides a philanthropy outlet for people who might never have thought to do something like this otherwise. Especially if they’re young and have money, maybe for the first time.
Like, “Dude, did you hear about that TFJ thing? I bet we could get together a pretty ridiculous tip…” “Oh man that is a great effing idea — I bet we can get the biggest one YET because we just got crazy big bonuses in our various financial jobs!” And, scene.
Where in the World Is Tips for Jesus? [San Francisco Magazine]