A Pizzeria Waitress Received A $3 Million Tip. Yes, Really!

November 30, 2015

In Dobbs Ferry, N.Y., a police detective kept his word and his honor in the face of a $3 million temptation to backtrack away from a promise.

waitress $3 million tip

The hero is Robert Cunningham, who was 55 years old at the time this happened in 1984. He had been a regular at Sal's Pizzeria in Yonkers, N.Y., where Phyllis Penzo waited tables six nights a week for 24 years.

On one particular evening, after finishing his usual dish of linguini and clam sauce, he offered Phyllis a deal instead of a tip: split his $1 lottery ticket instead of a tip.

On April Fool's Day (of all days), Cunningham called Phyllis at 9 a.m. to tell her he had just won $6 million dollars and that she was entitled to half of it.

After Cunningham finally convinced her that it was not a joke, she screamed and woke her husband, Robert, a construction worker, to tell him they were rich.

The two families split the lottery payout of $285,715 a year over 21 years.

Cunningham was a 30-year police veteran making a salary of $30,000. He insisted that he never considered keeping all of the money for himself.

"I've been a simple person all my life," he said. "If I say I'll do something, I do it."

The event was eventually made into a movie, "It Could Happen to You," starring Nicolas Cage.

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