The California woman whose viral Facebook post seeking to shame a Starbucks barista for refusing to serve her because she was not wearing a mask has backfired and fueled a massive fundraising effort is now seeking to reap the rewards.
Amber Lynn Gilles, a yoga instructor, photographer and self-proclaimed anti-vaxxer, took to Facebook on June 22 to blast the barista – identified as Lenin Gutierrez – for denying her service at a Starbucks in San Diego.
‘Meet lenen [sic] from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask,’ she said in the post, tagging the coffee shop off the 4200 block of Genesee Avenue.
The post, which has been deleted after drawing numerous negative comments directed at Gilles, inspired a stranger, Matt Cowan, from Irvine, to launch a GoFundMe campaign for Gutierrez as a way of tipping him for his work.
In an interview with ABC10 this week, Cowan said when launching the campaign, titled ‘Tips for Lenin Standing Up To A San Diego Karen,’ he never expected the outpouring of support that followed.
‘I set it at $1,000 thinking that was a reach but we would be lucky if we hit like $250 and when we hit $100 I was overwhelmed by that,’ said Cowan.
As of late Friday afternoon, the fundraiser has drawn more than $104,000 in donations.
New York Times reported that in an interview last weekend, Gilles said she wants at least half of all the proceeds from the online campaign ‘because they’re using me to get it.’
She continued: ‘they’re using my name, they’re using my face, and they’re slandering me.’
Gilles also has threatened to sue Cowan, claiming defamation and slander.
Meanwhile, Gutierrez told ABC10 that he plans to use the money to pursue a college degree in kinesiology – the study of movement – and to donate some to charity.
‘Everything I wanted to do seemed very far away, but with all that’s going on, it seems more within my reach,’ he said. ‘Everyone showed my kindness, so now I want to show it back.’
The plan is for Gutierrez to receive the money from the fundraiser sometime next week.
Under California Governor Gavin Newsom’s mandate regarding face coverings, people can be exempt for wearing masks in public but must provide a medical reason.
Gilles took to Facebook to defend her actions and to clash with those who were blasting her on her post.
‘I am not scared or bothered by your ignorant fraud a**’s, not so sorry you losers got nothing better to do.,’ she said last week. ‘Thanks for the ratings you all act like the terrorist organization you are.’
Speaking to NBC San Diego days later, Gilles denied ever threatening Gutierrez.
‘I just called him out on his actions,’ the 35-year-old mother-of-three said. ‘I never threatened him and I’ve received death threats, thousands, it’s very upsetting. It’s very scary.’
Gilles, who opposes vaccinations, argued that forcing people to wear masks is a slippery slope.
‘It starts with coffee but it ends with mandatory digital certificates, the mark of the beast and all of that forced vaccination,’ she said.
Gutierrez posted a video on his Facebook page offering his side of the story. He said that he asked Gilles if she had a face mask, to which she allegedly replied that she did not need one.
‘Before I could say anything she flipped me off and said I don’t need one and she started cursing up a storm,’ he said. ‘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.’
Starbucks has since released a statement standing behind the need to wear masks inside stores.