KFC donated $30,000 to the family of three-year-old Victoria Wilcher after they claimed an employee at a store in Jackson, Miss. asked them to leave because Victoria's scars—leftover from an attack by her grandfather's pit bulls—were scaring customers. But according to a new report in the Laurel Leader-Call, the whole thing was a hoax and never happened.
The company publicly apologized for the incident and donated the money to help with the cost Victoria's medical bills. Apparently, the entire incident in the restaurant was cooked up as an elaborate publicity stunt to raise money. After the KFC franchise where the incident allegedly took place became suspicious of the timeline presented by Victoria's family, they hired an independent investigator, who has yet to release their final report.
But a source tells the Laurel Leader-Call that the story completely falls apart upon basic fact-checking: Security footage does not put Victoria or her grandmother, who claimed to be with her, in the KFC (or even another KFC) the day the incident supposedly occurred. And apparently, no one made their order—for mashed potatoes and sweet tea—that day, either. No one even ordered mashed potatoes and sweet tea as part of a larger order.
The family had been raising money on GoFundMe for Victoria's medical bills, and as The Clarion-Ledger reports, their widely-reported story gave a serious boost to donations:
More than $135,000 has been raised through the online donation site, gofundme.com, since June 13. The fund was created by Bates on April 28. The funding before the chicken caper came from seven donors for a total of $595.
Doctors have even agreed to waive their fees—a Las Vegas surgeon offered Victoria's family free plastic surgery. And the Frank L. Stiles Foundation has pledged to cover all the costs of reconstructing Victoria's face.
According to Bill Kellum, the lawyer representing Kelly Mullins, Victoria's grandmother, said that the family has not decided whether or not to take the money from KFC. But apparently, KFC will honor the donation even if the incident is proven to have been faked:
Dick West, who is the president of West Quality Food, one of the largest franchisees in the KFC chain and the owner of the local KFCs, also declined comment. However, on Saturday night, he made his feelings quite clear on the Facebook page of a Jackson television station when he posted "When the allegation was first made, KFC pledged $30,000 to go to medical expenses and started an investigation to find the truth. They have pledged the money even if it is proven that the incident never happened. At this point their story is full of holes. Any thinking person who follows their timeline can see it. The event at KFC never happened."
[Image via WJTV]