TAMPA, Fla. — Just hours after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers lost to the Carolina Panthers 22-19 on Christmas Eve, Bucs defensive tackle Sealver Siliga did his part to spread some holiday cheer, leaving a $1,000 tip at a Tampa Applebee’s restaurant and nearly moving one server to tears.
Siliga had just gotten in from Charlotte and was eating with three of his friends at the bar area. When they received their bill at 10:30 p.m., Siliga asked the manager how many people were still working. When he learned that there were 10 of them, he informed the manager that he wanted them to split the tip evenly among everyone.
Elizabeth Reyes, a server who was working that night, told ESPN she was in disbelief. She’d never received a tip that large before.
“Never. I wasn’t even around that area. I had like a complete different area. And then this amazing man just blesses us — all of us,” Reyes told ESPN. “He was so thoughtful to think of like the cooks in the back that are cleaning up, the dishwasher too. That was extremely generous.”
Reyes said that when their shift was over, their manager called the group together. She figured it was for a staff meeting. That’s when he told them about Siliga and handed them each a $100 bill.
“That was amazing. I was completely taken aback,” Reyes said. “I went and called my boyfriend and was almost in tears. I was like, ‘Oh my God, you won’t believe what just happened.’ It was so awesome.”
Siliga never posted about the gesture on social media. Word didn’t get out until a story surfaced on TMZ.
“A lot of the guys in the kitchen, that’s a large sum to them. It definitely helped out our front of house staff as well,” said manager Ryan Preston, who wasn’t working that night but heard of the account from colleagues like Reyes, who was so excited that she posted about it on Facebook.
“I went to my dad’s house after and told him all about it. It was so amazing,” Reyes said. “I didn’t even know who this man was. He didn’t know me from anybody, and not even that, but the people in the back too — that’s what had me completely flabbergasted. Even in the back, he thought about the guys behind the scenes, doing all this wonderful stuff.”