A Cleveland waitress, Virginia Hopkins, received the greatest tip of her 20-year career as a waitress from Uncle Sam on Tuesday. She is owed a tax refund of $754 but instead she got a check for $434,712.
The elderly waitress was more amused than shocked at the check. She said with laugh: "I think I would have to work most of my life to earn that much money. Even with undeclared tips."
According to ABC News, Virginia did not, for a moment, consider keeping the largess. WFMY reports she realized that cashing the check could lead to trouble. She said: "They'll put me in Alactraz. Waiting on the night shift at Alcatraz. They'll reopen the place."
WFMY reports she couldn't resist dreaming about what she could do with the money if she kept it. "For years I've wanted to go to Hawaii and my whole family, too. We'd go to Hawaii, yes, and maybe Rio for the Mardi Gras. Would you believe I had my first vacation in 23 years last October?"
But dreams of Hawaii and Rio did tempt her to try cashing the check. The only problem she had was to work out how to return nearly half a million dollars to the U.S. government.
Virginia has worked at Johnny's Downtown Restaurant in Cleveland for 19 years. She said: "I tell people I used to be a tall, slim brunette. Now I stand four-feet-eight with white hair. This is what happens after 20 years of waitressing."
ABC News reports Mary Lou Adams, a bookkeeper at Johnny's, said Virginia was laughing when she brought the check. "She said, you'll never believe what I got in the mail."
She sought advice at her work place, and according to ABC News, both workers and patrons brainstormed about what Virginia should do.
Virginia said: "I have many best friends now, let me tell you." According to ABC News, a group of her "best friends," her grandchildren, thought nearly half a million dollars might get them into the sold-out Cleveland concert of the boy band One Direction.
Ginny said some of her friends said "cash it," and some said "don't."
The final decision taken at her workplace was that Virginia should go to Cleveland's IRS office the next day and handover the check.
Virginia exclaims at the reception she got at the IRS office: "Would you believe I had to give them a photo ID to prove it was me before I could give it back? Otherwise they wouldn't even talk to me."
According to ABC News, once she had convinced the IRS officials that this wasn't a clever scam they attended to her politely. The officers accepted the check from her and promised to investigate. But IRS, for "privacy reasons," did not reveal to her the results of their investigations.
According to Virginia, she was rich for a day, now she is "readjusting" to being poor again. She said jokingly, "It's not easy being poor after you've been rich."
But ABC News reports Virginia is now a celebrity in Cleveland, and that has been bringing in some benefits. She says she is getting better tips. She said: "Last night was a good night. Please tell me fortune goes with fame."
ABC News reports she is still waiting for her $754 refund.