The mid-June story of an adorable 3-year-old girl who was asked to leave a Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurant in Jackson, Miss. because her disfigured face disturbed other customers may have been all a lie, in order to raise money to pay her medical bills, according to the Laurel Leader-Call.
The possible hoax involved a photograph of Victoria Wilcher posted on Facebook under the heading, “Does this face look scary to you?” with a pitch for donations, to help offset medical expenses.
The heart-tugging posting immediately captured the nation’s attention and even went international, pulling in $135,000 plus a host of gifts and offers of free surgery. But, the Laurel Leader-Call reported, the incident never happened.
Two investigations were launched, one by franchise owner Kirk Hannon, and one by KFC headquarters.
A source insisting on strict anonymity for the restaurant owner claims the following holes are in the grandmother’s story, while KFC’s findings will be released later this week.
- Security tape footage from the two KFC locations near the hospital show no one with the appropriate descriptions entering either facility on May 15, as claimed.
- Records indicate no one ordered sweet tea and mashed potatoes like the grandmother, Kate Mullins, said.
- Employees stated that they have served scores of patients from the hospital who came in with far worse disfigurements than Victoria, and no one has ever been asked to leave.
- The family mixed up the supposed location of the restaurant.
- The family was in dispute with its medical insurance carrier.
National outlets such as the Huffington Post, Nancy Grace, “The Today Show” and CNN jumped on the incident, castigating KFC, its employees and owner YUM! Brands, which resulted in death threats to the franchise owner, calls for boycotts on social media, and drinks being thrown in the faces of people working in the Jackson restaurant.
KFC headquarters immediately pledged a $30,000 donation to help with bills when the story first broke, and despite it all, has said they will stand by that even if the story proves false.
The family has strongly denied the accusation of deception on their Facebook page, the Washington Post reported:
I promise its not a hoax, I never thought any of this would blow up the way it has. The article circling the web calling this a hoax is untrue. The article it self say the investigation is not complete. It is not over until KFC releases a statement. The media outlet running this story is not connected with KFC. The family has not asked for anything, a attorney is handling all the media publicity for the family pro bono. Please do not believe untrue media. I have personally watched this family go without to provide for Victoria. They have not and would not do anything to hurt Victoria in any way.
They also have yet to decide whether they will accept the restaurant chain’s offer. Their attorney said he would have no comment until the KFC investigation report had been completed.
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