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Brees takeout tip controversy spurs gratuity debate

DEL MAR, Calif. — A nationwide tipping debate has been set off after a photo of a $3 tip left at a California restaurant by New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees was posted to the Internet earlier this week.

Brees recently visited Del Mar Rendezvous restaurant in Del Mar, Calif., and left a $3 tip on a $74 order — far less than the 20 percent most consider standard.

A photo of Brees’ receipt was posted Monday to the gossip website The Dirty.

“Drew Brees must hate America like he hates writing zeros,” Nik Richie wrote on the site. “Thanks for not helping our economy Drew.”

In the days following the post, a firestorm of Internet outrage was directed at Brees, igniting a nationwide debate about tipping etiquette in the U.S. Brees was criticized for tipping less than is standard even while set to make $9.75 million and a $250,000 workout bonus this season, according to Sports Illustrated.

The owner of Del Mar issued a statement on Tuesday about the issue, saying the receipt appeared to have been for a take-out order.

“If this is an authentic receipt, it would indicate that Mr. Brees is a very generous individual, as it would be a take-out receipt … and take-out orders do not usually garner a tip at our restaurant,” owner Daniel Shalom Schreiber said.

Schreiber said he has issued a personal apology to Brees and will donate $888.88 to the Brees Dream Foundation. Eight is considered the luckiest number in Chinese culture, Schreiber noted.

“We believe Drew Brees to be a great guy and a pillar of the community in New Orleans as he was and still is in San Diego through his immense charitable giving and wonderful leadership,” Schreiber said.

Brees has addressed the incident on social media on Tuesday, linking to a post on Bleacher Report about the controversy.

“In case anyone still cares about this report: I tipped $3 on a takeout order. Had we sat down it would have been 20%+,” he said.

The quarterback told the Associated Press on Thursday that he was disappointed “that it actually got spun and perceived as — you immediately jump to the conclusion that he stiffed a waiter or waitress. That’s the part that bothers me.”

The AP report noted that Brees “did not appear deeply disturbed” by the issue and said he just hoped a tipping scandal would be the biggest controversy he had to deal with this season.

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