MTV celebrity leaves generous, meaningful tip for pregnant waitress

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DENVER (KDVR) – Good news tends to spread quickly. Zulia Reyes made sure of that after a chance encounter with a celebrity at Denver International Airport.

Reyes is a server at Smashburger at the airport. Recently, she thought she recognized a customer.

“I go up took his order and thought, ‘Why does he looks like he’s someone from Catfish?’ Another server, she steps up and was like, ‘It’s Nev from Catfish!’ And I’m like, ‘Oh yeah, it is!'” Reyes said.

Nev Schulman, the host of MTV’s reality show “Catfish,” was flying through Denver and stopped for a bite to eat and a quick conversation with Zulia.

She said, “We got talking and he asked me about my due date, which is Sept. 26, which happens to be his birthday.”

When he was finished, Schulman wanted to leave Zulia something meaningful.

He joked, “Well, I was going to leave $9.26, but then I was like, that’s lame.”

Reyes said, “He left the tip of $926 for his birthday and my due date.”

Schulman said, “It just occurred to me, ‘Oh my God, 926 is the perfect number!'”

Reyes said, “I was literally bawling my eyes out through my mask, crying and hyperventilating. I couldn’t believe it. I was like, ‘How is this possible?'”

Reyes said the meeting almost didn’t happen.

“I had a bad day the day before, left in literally tears. My manager said, ‘You need to take a day off, an early day, enjoy the day off go home relax, enjoy yourself.’ I was almost going to give up the shift. May I repeat: I almost gave up that shift that morning, then later in the day, I told myself, ‘Just suck it up, it’s your Friday, you’re going to be fine,'” Reyes said.

She said her husband lost his job and she was temporarily laid off earlier this year because of the pandemic. She said money was tight.

“I just couldn’t believe it, he was so nice with meeting us. I couldn’t believe a stranger would do something like that. I’ve been a server for a long time. Sometimes you’re not respected. You’re looked down upon. For him to do that, it’s so heartwarming, I was in tears. I was crying. I just couldn’t believe it. They were happy tears. This will definitely help buying baby stuff and helps with rent,” she said.

Schulman took off that day, not sure Zulia actually got the tip.

“I left for a seven-day trip down the Salmon River, so I was completely off the grid. I had hoped she had seen the tip. You never know, sometimes tables just get cleared. And then I wondered if the tip would get pooled and she will even know it happened. I had no way of knowing,” he said.

Reyes not only got the tip, she shared pictures on Facebook. Her post went viral and was shared nearly 50,000 times.

Schulman said, “It was really nice when I turned my phone back on, I had texts from my uncle, my dad, my father-in-law in Michigan who had seen it on Twitter or wherever she posted the receipt and it meant so much to her. It was kind of a nice surprise everyone had been touched by the story.”

He continued, “Before I went on my trip with a group of friends, we all said hopefully when we come back and turn our phones back on after a week, hopefully, there will be some good news because I know we are all tired of bad news. It really was such a delight to see that Zulia got the tip and it meant so much to her, just to know you’re going through a tough time, that the tip really meant that much to her.”

FOX31 and Channel 2 got the two together again on a Zoom call. Reyes had a chance to tell Schulman how much his kind gesture meant.

“You made me restore my faith in people so much,” she said.

But Schulman said it just felt like the right thing to do. He hopes to inspire others to commit random acts of kindness.

“Actually (I) think it made me feel better than anyone, and now to get to talk to Zulia and have our friendship through Instagram, it’s great. It’s nice to know I have a friend in Denver,” he said.

Soon to be two new friends in Denver.

Reyes said, “People keep saying I should name her after Nev, so there might be a surprise on how I name her.”

MTV’s “Catfish” show airs Wednesdays at 6 p.m. Mountain Time. This is the first time the entire season has been shot at home because of the pandemic.

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