HOUSTON -- The mystery man who was photographed inside a Utah Denny's after tipping a waitress $1,500 has come forward.
The man walked into the restaurant and asked to be seated at a table that was served by a single mother, Love What Matters posted on Facebook on April 1st.
For the next two hours, the man sat at his booth and watched families walk in the restaurant. Before leaving, he left a $1,500 tip on his $21.34 bill.
The man apparently told a staff member, “Family is everything. I’ve lost all mine.” The worker shared the story with Love What Matters:
“Seven families came in and ate while you were there and you paid every one of their bills, over $1,000. You paid for people you didn’t even know. I asked, ‘Why did you do that?'”
Now we have an answer.
Briggs VanNess spoke to KRIV about the Facebook post that has been liked over 390,000 times and shared more than 175,000 times.
"I grew up with a single mother of six. We were poor and homeless a lot," VanNess told KRIV. "I'd spend many nights at my mother's friends' houses. My mother was dying from cancer -- but somehow managed to survive. But I watched and suffered for years as I watched her work her hands to the bone to give us a good life. She raised us to be kind and help others. Many years down the road, I was facing prison and getting in trouble and it ended up causing me to lose my family because I was a really terrible person."
VanNess said after years of fighting demons, he "found the light" and started helping others as he was raised to do.
"Now it's time to pay it back. I'm a successful business owner and I help as many as I feel that need it," he said.
VanNess, who is originally from Grand Junction, Colorado, is currently traveling and did not indicate in the interview where he is currently living.
In the Facebook post, the worker wrote that Crystal was living in a shelter when she received the $1,500 tip. She is now able to buy her own place.
There was one small inaccuracy in the viral Facebook post, according to VanNess. The posted indicated he picked up the bill for seven families that added up to $1,000. He said he actually paid $600 to cover the bills for every customer in the restaurant at the time.