Former NFL player Chad Ochocinco gives huge tip to server at Miller’s Ale House

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — An NFL legend’s kind gesture is lifting the spirits of a local server and his family.

Former NFL wide receiver, Chad Johnson, left a nearly $1,000 tip for his server at Miller’s Ale House, Michael Formanek, near the Avenues Mall on Friday. Johnson tweeted earlier in the day saying he was in Jacksonville to watch the Jaguars play the Browns on Sunday.

“We had one of the NFL greats come in,” said Formanek. “Chad Ochocinco came and sat at my table, very humble guy, very outgoing, very talkative.”

Johnson, more commonly known as, Chad Ochocinco, tweeted about his visit to the restaurant.

“I found a miller’s ale house near the mall,” Johnson said. “My server is cool and has no idea the blessing in which will be bestowed upon him.”

Less than an hour later, the NFL legend tweeted a picture of the receipt, showing a $963 tip for Formanek.

At the bottom of the receipt, Johnson wrote the message, ‘I love you.’

“I wanted to go hug him! You know? I didn’t. But I was on the patio, and I kind of yelled ‘thank you!’ And I did a little thumbs up. He’s like, ‘You’re welcome man! You were cool! I appreciate you!’ And it was very humbling,” Formanek said.

Johnson offered a clue as to why the tip amounted to $963. His tweet of the receipt also included the words, ‘Proverbs 11:25,’ and ‘Terry McLaurin edition.

Terry McLaurin, a wide receiver for the Washington Football Team, is the NFL’s current leader in receiving yards. McLaurin has 963 yards thus far.

Formanek, and his mother, Jeri, say Johnson’s gift came at the right time.

Michael tells Action News Jax he had been out of work for about six months due to COVID-19 impacts on staffing at the restaurant. He re-joined the staff at ale house two days ago.

“The plans for this money, it’s definitely going to help Christmas, it’s definitely going to help pay a couple of bills. Probably take Mom to a nice dinner,” Michael said.

“When you do good, good comes back to you, and you should always be kind to everybody. Because you just never know what anybody’s going through,” Jeri said.

Action News Jax Reporter Ryan Nelson tweeted a portion of our interview with the Formaneks, and it received thousands of views in a matter of hours.

Chad retweeted Nelson’s video and addressed his gesture in a subsequent tweet.

“Really wish I had [Jeff] Bezos type money so I can pull off my last [retweet] with EVERYBODY at once instead of 1 by 1,” Johnson said.

Mayor of Jacksonville, Lenny Curry, also weighed in on the large tip.

“Very cool and thoughtful,” Curry said.