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CLEVELAND — The man who famously put down his Big Mac to help rescue three women held captive for years in a Cleveland house will get free McDonald’s for the next year, a company spokesman confirmed Thursday.
Local franchisees in Charles Ramsey’s neighborhood have offered him free food at their restaurants, said Heidi Barker, a spokesman for Oak Brook, Ill.-based McDonald’s Corp.
Mr. Ramsey was called a hero after helping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus, and Michelle Knight break out of the house May 6.
Homeowner Ariel Castro faces charges.
His defense team has said he will plead not guilty.
Mr. Ramsey had noted in an interview with a local TV station that he was eating McDonald’s when the scene unfolded. He also spoke of it in a 911 call.
Both the interview and the call quickly became popular online and McDonald’s caught wind of Mr. Ramsey’s mentions.
The world’s biggest hamburger company had said a day after the rescue on Twitter:
“We salute the courage of Ohio kidnap victims & respect their privacy. Way to go Charles Ramsey — we’ll be in touch.”
Ms. Barker said local McDonald’s owner-operators later connected with Mr. Ramsey.
McDonald’s also has made a $10,000 donation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the names of the three women and Mr. Ramsey, Ms. Barker said.
Mr. Ramsey also has been promised free burgers for life at more than a dozen Cleveland-area restaurants.
The burger tribute began soon after the rescue, when Hodges restaurant, where Mr. Ramsey works as a dishwasher, created the Ramsey Burger, a play on a Big Mac.
“It’s an 8-ounce burger of Certified Angus Beef, with a secret sauce,” said chef-co-owner Chris Hodgson.
Mr. Hodgson’s partner, Scott Kuhn of Driftwood Restaurant Group, began thinking a bigger tribute was due.
“We want to honor our local hero with local food,” said Mr. Kuhn, who operates four of the restaurants participating in the offer.
A single-edition “Chuck Card,” good for life, is being stamped in Mr. Ramsey’s honor. Anytime Mr. Ramsey takes the card into one of the participating restaurants, he’ll get a free burger.
Mr. Ramsey has been traveling during a paid leave from his job at Hodges and was not available for comment.