Donnie Wahlberg left a $2,020 tip at an IHOP for the new year

One lucky server got a fantastic surprise on New Year’s Day. Donnie Wahlberg stopped into an IHOP in St. Charles, Illinois, and left his server a $2,020 tip on a $78 bill! (Fox reported it was $76, but the total was $2,098.45.) We know about this because Jenny McCarthy tweeted about it:

That’s an incredibly kind gesture by Donnie, and that server’s year is, I hope, off to a fabulous start. I just wish that Jenny hadn’t been the one to post about it, because it comes off as obnoxious bragging about Donnie when she’s the one sharing the story: “Look how amazing my husband is, everyone!” (I’m assuming that Donnie knew she was tweeting, of course.) She irks me, though, so it’s possible that I’d be less bothered if someone else’s partner did the same thing.

Donnie wrote “2020 Tip Challenge” on the bill. I guess Jenny was tweeting, in part, to spread the word, so I’ll give her that. Not everyone tips well. Servers get paid so little, and depend on that extra money. I always tip 20% when I go out to eat, and it bugs me when people want to be cheap and not give a decent tip to their server. If you can’t afford to tip fairly, you shouldn’t go out to eat. If there’s a problem with the food, that’s not on the server, and everyone is human and makes mistakes. Good for Donnie for spreading some unexpected cheer to start off the new year. Maybe people will be a bit more generous the next time that they go out for a meal.


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49 Responses to “Donnie Wahlberg left a $2,020 tip at an IHOP for the new year”

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  1. Becks1 says:

    I cant stand JM, and this does feel a little AW-y, but its still a really nice gesture and I’m sure it made that server’s day.

    • Christo says:

      Jenny is terrible. I am so grateful that neither she nor Fergie were hosts for the Seacrest NYE special. Both have such obtuse personalities—-as if their voices are elbowing their way into one’s ear canal.

    • Maria says:

      Kind gesture, but can we really be shallow and talk about that mishmash of a dress JM is wearing?

  2. girl_ninja says:

    I’m happy for the server. That’s a tough business and that money will hopefully go a long way in helping financially.

  3. Betsy says:

    Her anti-vax stance has done so much harm in the world that her husband’s generosity (gosh, wouldn’t that be fun to be wealthy and spray money wherever you wanted?) doesn’t even touch.

    Sour grapes on January 3, I know, sorry. But diseases we had vaccined into submission are on the rise.

  4. GG says:

    Jenny McCarthy is a problematic anti-Vaxer but I think she and Donny are cute together. Good for them for challenging their friends / people in their tax bracket to pay it forward with generous tips.

  5. M says:

    Oh yea it’s soooo sweet, just look at her humble brag! Ugh screw them both. People who are anti science do not get a pass.

  6. CharliePenn says:

    Of course it’s very kind and generous of him. The fact that this even exists as a thing, though, just speaks to the alarming wealth disparity we have. To him it’s a cute New Year gesture that doesn’t cause him any financial stress. To the server… who knows how much that money means. Most working people struggle so much and need to pay medical bills, rent, loans, car payments and many many people are barely keeping their heads above water. To think what $2000 means to Donnie (nothing really) and what $2000 means to the average working person (a great deal), highlights one of our biggest societal problems as we enter a new decade.

    • Esmom says:

      THIS to everything you said, Charlie. Alarm bells are ringing for me all the time now about the messed up state of our country. I don’t see any real solutions in sight, either.

  7. Lala11_7 says:

    I didn’t realize they live up the street from me…in St. Charles, IL….

    For WAY TOO MANY IN THIS COUNTRY….$2000…can LITERALLY be the difference between life and death…having someplace to lay your head at night or being homeless…or being able to get to work because your older car needs a new brakes or tires, ESPECIALLY on the horrific roads that are out this way…

    That was a decent thing to do.

    • Joanna says:

      Yeah, my husband and I were always broke, scraping up an extra $500 was impossible. $500 would have solved most of the unexpected expenses we encountered. Now we are in a better financial position thankfully.

      Idk how you take those cold winters. I’m from southern MO originally and we have relatives in IL. we migrated down to FL when my mom retired and moved there. I do not miss the snow and ice at all. We complain if it gets below 60F. Lol. Happy New Year

  8. Caty Page says:

    20% is the minimum acceptable amount to tip and it astounds me when anyone falls below that threshold. I typically tip 25% on bills below $20 because I was taking up someone’s table and ordering cheaper items doesn’t take any work off of the server’s plate.

    That said, this story makes me more sad than warm and fuzzy. “Be generous to the poors, #tip2020!” Umm, thanks? The attempt is to raise awareness, so I appreciate her efforts, but it highlights our astounding income gap.

    • L says:

      Sorry, disagree. I work hard for my money and don’t get tips and I’ll eat out if I want to. No one is going to tell me I have to add 20% to that!

      • Sparkly says:

        You really should add 20% to that at the very least.

      • L says:

        Why? If they haven’t gone above and beyond why do they deserve a tip? They’re payed a salary like the rest of us out here not getting tips for doing what’s expected of us at our jobs.

      • Beckysuz says:

        No L, they aren’t paid a salary. They usually make just enough to cover taxes. The actual money they make comes from tips. This is the deal for now in America, so leave a tip or stay home.

      • JanetDR says:

        It’s been a long time since I waitressed, but it was much less than minimum wage. 20% is where I start. I know well how far an extra couple of dollars can go!

      • Anna says:

        Waitstaff do NOT make a salary. When I used to wait tables, I got a little over $2 an hour. $2 an hour *before* taxes. Everything else was supposed to come from tips. How are people still so ignorant that they don’t realize this? IMO it’s willful ignorance to claim that you don’t need to leave a tip. Enjoy your food on the backs of punishing labor. Only people who have no respect for labor go out to eat and don’t leave a tip in the U.S.

      • Redgrl says:

        @L – are you living in Europe? I ask because as I understand it servers are paid a more decent salary in countries like France and Italy and a tip is more of a small gesture of appreciation. In Canada most servers are paid minimum wage (it used to be they were paid less, but I don’t think that’s still allowed) and they rely on their tips as the bulk of their income. Always good to do some research into tipping culture if you travel.

  9. Erin says:

    Can’t stand either of them but this is nice. Happy for the server who received this lovely surprise.

  10. LaUnicaAngelina says:

    I think this is great! I have worked in the service industry for many years but never got anything like this.

  11. lucy2 says:

    I dislike him, and loathe his brother and his wife. Ugh.
    That is a nice gesture, and good for the server, but it feels yucky to me that they shared it publicly, looking for press and applause.

  12. Bookworm1858 says:

    Definitely agree about the 20% tip minimum and don’t eat at the place if you can’t afford that! I have a few friends who are shitty tippers (like they will spend an extra $2 to add avocado to their burger but then tip $1 on their $19 bill) and I’ve never figured out how to naturally have a conversation about this – any thoughts on if it’s possible?

    • Anna says:

      If it’s relatives like my elder aunt and uncle, I discretely find a way to add more money to the table by having to go back in to use the restroom after we’ve left the restaurant or slipping money to the waitstaff. If it’s a boyfriend, I actually have a conversation about it and I frame it on my experience as a waitperson and also that I want to be welcome back to the establishment in the future. With friends, I don’t know since I don’t actually hang out with anyone who doesn’t understand how tipping and wait labor work in this country.

  13. TheOriginalMia says:

    Went to a Christmas luncheon provided by an orthopedist office. Our staff is small. There were 7 of us plus 4 others from the ortho’s office and a law firm. Our total was $500. The ortho left a 10% tip. I was livid. We all were. Our office gathered up $100 and gave it to her. She told us she was disappointed by the tip and hugged us. It was the right thing to do. I applaud Donny. I bet that waitress was shocked and grateful.

    • lucy2 says:

      I’m surprised for a group that size, the restaurant didn’t automatically do 18%.
      Glad you guys were able to add to her tip, I hate being with others who undertip, especially in a work situation like that.

      Someone I know would order more than anyone else (drinks, apps, dessert, etc) and would then want everyone to split the tax and tip equally, and would still undertip. I was constantly throwing in a few more bucks to make up for it. I then started immediately asking for separate checks whenever our group went out, and overtipped knowing she’d cheap out.

  14. Kathy Kack says:

    Bragging about this is so vile to me. It diminishes the act.

  15. Marianne says:

    I agree that it comes across as tasteless to tweet about it yourself. But at the end of the day whether he did it because he truly wanted to be nice or because they wanted the views…it still made someone’s day, right?

  16. JanetFerber says:

    It always angers me when obviously affluent people leave no tip at the deli or Dunkin Donuts. These servers work hard and deserve a tip. I do see truck drivers and postal workers leaving tips.

  17. Aimee says:

    Yea, I don’t like that they publicized it themselves. Now maybe if the server did it herself.

  18. Abigail Grimm says:

    This ridiculous showing off even made entertainment headlines on the screens in the German ubahn. Very, very slow news day.

  19. Snazzy says:

    I wish people were paid properly so Taht tips wouldn’t be necessary. I mean honestly it’s cruel that people in the service industry are so dependant on others, when they are doing the work no matter what!

  20. L says:

    Sorry, I don’t believe in tipping as a must. They’re payed a salary (I live in Canada I know in the US it’s different) and you’re not getting a tip from me unless you’ve earned on. Also, don’t tell me I don’t deserve to eat out if I tip less than 20%, I live on my wage without tips a server should be able to as well.

    • Anna says:

      If you eat out in the U.S., you need to tip properly. It’s part of how things work here, whether you like it or not. If you don’t tip at least 18%, you’re just punishing the person who is serving you; it makes absolutely no difference to the establishment or to the system. The only peson who suffers is the one person is busting their butt to make sure you have a good dining experience. Since you live in Canada, I guess you don’t need to worry about that.

    • Bar Wench says:

      Hi L.
      Please know that I say this with respect, but you are wrong about serving staff in Canada.

      I currently live in BC, but over the last 13 years, I have worked as a server in BC, AB, SK, MB & ON. Servers and bartenders in Canada do not make a salary – they make LESS than minimum wage, if working in an establishment that serves liquor. (This is slowly being rectified through incremental wage increases – by June 2022, serving wage will be the same as the standard minimum all other industries receive.)

      However, what lot of people don’t know (and I am not sure if its the same in the US,) is that in almost all establishments, servers ‘tip out’ to their support staff (kitchen, bartenders, bussers and hosts – all the people who make their job possible. ) This ‘tip out’ is based on sales, not tips. The ‘tip out ‘ generally ranges between 3-6%, depending on where you work. So…. lets presume that as a server, I tipout 5% of my sales to support staff (which I do, in my current job.) If a guest comes in, runs up a $100 tab, and then doesn’t tip, it actually costs me $5 to serve them – all while I am making less than minimum wage.

      That being said, tip used to stand for “To Insure Promptness.” A ‘tip’ is supposed to be an incentive for good service. It REALLY bothers me when servers have a sense of entitlement, when they feel that they deserve a tip for doing the bare minimum, if that. Or if they refuse to serve someone because that person doesn’t tip. (Thats their job, regardless of how low their wage might be.)

      I work hard. I take a lot of pride in what I do, and I put a lot of effort into creating a great experience for my guests. Because of this, I have a lot of ‘regulars,’ and I do pretty well. (All my bills get paid, at the very least. 😉)

      I’m not trying to preach, and I’m definitely not saying that tipping is mandatory. I’m just offering a little knowledge about what I do, and hopefully, a different perspective.


    • Redgrl says:

      No, L that is not how it works in Canada. I posted above that I thought you lived in Europe where that can be the case. It is not the case here in Ontario and Quebec. Servers not only rely on their tips for the bulk of their income but they also have to share it with the maître d’, the bus people and the runners. I would not want anyone who travels to Canada to not tip their hardworking servers because of your misinformation. My sources? Dozens of friends who work in the bar/restaurant industry as servers, bartenders, chefs and restaurant owners. The only time you shouldn’t tip is if you receive poor service (and even then, it’s not always the server’s fault – ie something slow in the kitchen).

    • Amanduh says:

      L is a cheapskate. This is why I used to hate waitressing. Meh, you win some you lose some. It actually would even out in the end. It depends on where you are working I guess. I would never stay somewhere where I wasn’t making what I feel I deserved.

  21. Riley says:

    I live in this area and know someone who knows the waitress. She was thrilled beyond words!! Can’t stand Jenny but always liked Donnie.

  22. Oopygoopy says:

    Ive been working as a server bartender for 12 years and have to pay taxes at the end of the year because my shitty wage doesnt cover all of the taxes. I have worked at the same restaurant (sushi/hibachi place) for 4+ years, no wage increase, zero benefits. I didnt come from any money or even a leg up, my parents were/are mentally ill/alcoholic. $2000 would change my life forever, it is so wrong that i have made my boss hundreds of thousands of dollars over the years and i cant even get a half decent dental plan. Non tipping dick heads can learn to cook for themselves at home like I learned to do.

  23. dota says:

    This topic is ridiculous. You should not brag about the one time you were a decent human being.

    BUT the more important part of the conversation is maybe a restaurant should not be in business if they cannot pay their workers an actual wage instead of slave level numbers.

    People need to start eating at home or only go to places that pay their workers enough to live. All of you people saying to pay x% are a part of the problem. Bag your lunch and eat at home until they reform that industry.

    They have restaurants in other countries and they do not pay them $2 an hour so why do we let this exist here?

  24. Ramona Q. says:

    Maybe this $2020 tip catches on, and it’s the waitstaff who document it on insta (not the celebrities themselves, that is lame), and there are thousands of $2020 tips given, it lasts all year and gives a little shuffle to the wealth distribution in the USA.

    • Amanduh says:

      Wouldn’t that be amazing! Sending good vibes, juju and pixie dust for this to catch on!

  25. JanetFerber says:

    Y’all know that restaurant workers are excluded from minimum wage laws, right? That’s why patrons tip.

  26. LDub311 says:

    Yikes her face. And her breast in that dress looks like it hurts. But she is super smart for curing her son’s autism. (That was sarcasm)

  27. Miss America says:

    Very crass to tweet about it. I’m sure the server would have done it anyway and they’d actually look genuine, not desperate.

  28. Dee says:

    Donnie Wahlberg seems like a good dude.

  29. Brookie says:

    A lovely and generous thing to do, also slightly tacky to draw/profit from public attention to it. Also, tip was not in cash. Hope the server gets it! Where I live cash tips are appreciated most because it gets to them, instantly, and in full. I have found this everywhere I travel too, better to tip in cash even when paying with plastic.