So LeBron James might not be such a bad tipper, or such a jerk, after all. About a month ago we linked to this Deadspin post that discussed this Cleveland Scene item that reported that LeBron left a $10 tip on an $800 bill at Cleveland’s XO Steakhouse after eating and drinking there with a group of folks until approximately 4AM.
Last week we came across this letter to the editor by Davey Houston of Lakewood on Page 5 of the June 4-10 issue of Cleveland Scene, in response to the Scene piece about the alleged incident.Houston’s letter reads, in part:
”You’re taking LeBron to task for a misunderstanding. Didn’t anyone see the report on Channel 19 that said the b*tchy little crybaby server looked at the bill wrong and was actually left a very generous tip?”
No, we didn’t see the report on Channel 19, and we cant find any evidence of it on the Channel 19 Action News website or anywhere else. Has anyone out there seen this report? A quick Google search of “LeBron bad tipper” brings up a number of published items about this alleged incident, none friendly to James. LeBron has taken a lot of heat for this, and as much fun as it is for us to believe that anyone richer or more famous than we are must be a jerk, if Mr. Houston’s letter is accurate, the King’s good name should be restored.
How couldn’t LeBron know how bad it would be for his image to tip so poorly, anyway? He must eat out a lot. Why haven’t we heard a story like this before?
A statement by one of LeBron’s representatives to the New York Post’s Page Six corroborates Houston’s account. James’ rep said that “[t]here was a misreading of the receipt, and the appropriate tip was provided.” As evidence of the hit that LeBron’s image has taken from this story, this quote was spun in the New York Post item, titled “Needs Glasses,” to mean that it was LeBron who misread the receipt.
Under normal circumstances, one letter to the editor referring to a news report that we can’t find much evidence of (yet) wouldn’t be a very big deal. But there wasn’t much behind this story in the first place. It was based on an anonymous tip, yet it proliferated quickly and widely, with damaging effect to LeBron. We have emails and calls in to Channel 19’s sports and news directors, and will follow up if/when we hear from them. In the meantime, please share any info you might have on this in the comments, or via email.
Update 6/9/08, 1:12PM: We just got an email from Ryan Minnaugh of the Channel 19 Sports Department who confirmed that a story about LeBron’s XO tip did run on 19 Action News, and was able to forward an excerpt from the copy from the story that ran on 19 Action News. The excerpt reads as follows:
“BUT JUST THIS AFTERNOON, THE RESTAURANT MANAGER RELEASED A STATEMENT. HE’S CALLING THE WHOLE THING A “MISUNDERSTANDING”. SAYING, THE WAITER MUST HAVE SEEN THE WRONG TIP AMOUNT ON THE RECEIPT. LEBRON REPORTEDLY SENT AN EVEN BIGGER TIP, TO CLEAR THE WHOLE THING UP.”
Of course this could be a case of XO’s management protecting the reputation of a good customer.
Update 6/10/08, 6:55AM: From TMZ.com, a more complete statement from XO Steakhouse management about the tipping incident:
“For the record, XO would like to clear up a misunderstanding resulting from a story that appeared in the Cleveland Scene on May 7th…Upon completion of his meal, Mr. James paid his bill with a credit card. Our waiter mistakenly read the receipt, inferring that Mr. James had left him only a $10 tip. To clear up the misunderstanding, Mr. James arranged for an appropriate tip to be delivered to the restaurant for the waiter.”