She claims she deserves a portion of the money "because they're using me to get it. They’re using my name, they’re using my face, and they’re slandering me."
An online fundraiser collecting "tips" for a San Diego Starbucks barista—who was blasted online by a woman for denying her service unless she wears a mask—has raised over $100k as of Friday. Donations from those who believe Lenin Gutierrez did the right thing by denying service to "Starbucks Karen," Amber Lynn Gilles, continue to pour in and has long surpassed its original goal of $1,000. According to NBCLA, a message posted to the fundraiser page on behalf of Gutierrez thanked the donors for their support as the donations would "change the trajectory of [his] future for the better."
Matt Cowan, the man who set up the fundraiser, stated on the page that Gutierrez will receive 100% of the donations and that he plans to use a portion of the money to pursue his dreams of becoming a dancer. "I have arranged for Lenin to meet with a financial advisor this week to help him plan how to properly invest and use the large sum of money," Cowan explained on the page. "Lenin has said that he plans to use some of the money to pursue his dreams of becoming a dancer. He also wants to donate to some organizations in the San Diego community."
Meanwhile, seemingly undeterred by the online backlash for her actions, Gilles has doubled down on her Karen-ness and is now demanding that she receive a cut of the money raised. According to The New York Times, she said in an interview on Sunday that she wanted at least half the money raised through the GoFundMe page "because they're using me to get it. They’re using my name, they’re using my face, and they’re slandering me." Meanwhile, she is also threatening to sue Cowan for defamation and slander.
This series of events was set off by Gilles sharing a photo of Gutierrez online in a since-deleted Facebook post with the comment: "Meet lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption." Although the post quickly went viral on social media, it did not have the desired effect Gilles was probably hoping for. Instead of sympathizing with her, it ignited a firestorm that led to a campaign that will now fund Gutierrez's dreams.
Speaking to NBC 7 last week, Gilles claimed she has received death threats from total strangers since the incident. "I never threatened him, I just called him out on his actions," she said. "I never threatened him; and I’ve received death threats, thousands, it’s very upsetting. It’s very scary." The self-professed anti-vaxxer and mother-of-three also said that face masks are ineffective.
“I never threatened him.” Hear from woman who was denied service at a Clairemont Starbucks for refusing to wear a mask. She publically shamed the barista. A Go Fund Me Page on his behalf is now over $22,000. She says she’s getting death threats. #nbc7 & https://t.co/ylvk5rP6Vf pic.twitter.com/gCREw0LR5V— Artie Ojeda (@ArtieNBCSD) June 25, 2020
Gutierrez explained his side of the story in a video posted to Facebook last week, which has been seen over 680K times. In it, he explained that he'd merely asked her "if she had a facemask," to which she replied that she didn't need one and proceeded to launch into a tirade, "cursing up a storm” and calling people "sheep" before walking out. "Before I could say anything she flipped me off and said I don’t need one and she started cursing up a storm. She started calling people sheep and she left and within a few minutes came back and she asked for my name and took a photo," he explained.