The Army veteran who was denied a free meal on Veterans Day at Chili’s has temporarily vacated his home because of threats, reports the Dallas Morning News.
But the news isn’t all bad, the veteran has also received more than $6,000 in pledges from many Americans through a GoFundMe account. He has asked the money be used to support hungry veterans. And Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, extended a personal invitation to the veteran to games for the remainder of the season.
Ernest Walker began receiving threats after a television news outlet showed his address and phone number during a segment about the incident, said Walker’s attorney. The newspaper reports that Walker received phone calls from restricted numbers saying “I know where you live.” He also received threats on Facebook and is now filing a report with the Ovilla Police Department.
On Veterans Day, Walker went to a Chili’s Bar & Grill in Cedar Hill to enjoy the free burger deal offered to vets, but had his meal removed by a restaurant manager. The manager challenged his status as a veteran despite Walker having shown him the proper ID and papers. Walker then began filming his exchange with the manager and posted it on Facebook. After several days, the post went viral, Chili’s was inundated with complaints and the company apologized to Walker and placed the manager on leave.
A resident of Arizona set up a GoFundMe page to raise $100 for Walker to get a meal of his choosing, but the campaign took off and quickly exceeded the requested amount. The fund is now up to $6,350. Walker requested that any donated money be used to assist other veterans rather than for his personal use.
On Wednesday, TMZ reported that Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban heard about the incident at Chili’s and wanted to personally honor the vet. Cuban offered Walker two season tickets to Dallas Mavs games and 10 bonus tickets to most other games so Walker can bring other vets. Cuban also agreed to donate money to Walker’s campaign to feed hungry veterans.
Walker said he was excited and personally thanked Cuban for his offer when they spoke by phone on Wednesday.