Country's best tipper, 'Tips for Jesus,' surprises Phoenix bartender

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By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland
By Catherine Holland By Catherine Holland

PHOENIX -- A Valley bartender and restaurateur got a big tip that appears to be divinely inspired. 

An anonymous diner who signs his tabs "Tips for Jesus" has popped up in several cities around the country, dropping massive, multi-thousand dollar tips.

The bar at Crudo in Phoenix was packed when two strangers sat down in front of Micah Olson on Tuesday night.

"A gentleman and a young lady came in and actually sat down at the two seats right in front of my well, which is where I'm stationed every day.  [He] ordered a couple Pappy 23s," said Olson, describing the beginning of the lucrative encounter.

Pappy Van Winkle 23 is the most expensive whiskey at the bar.  The mysterious man ordered several drinks for several people and ran up a tab of $530.

Olson said the man asked if he had heard of Tips for Jesus.  Olson said, "No," and the man then told him he would soon enough.

"I knew something was up when he mentioned Tips for Jesus and, 'You'll figure it out later,'" Olson said.  "So I wasn't as shocked when he handed me the black AmEx card."

The tip on the American Express Black Card was inspired -- $2,500.  The tip amounted to almost 500 percent of the original bill.

"He was very polite, very well mannered in the bar," Olson said. "Obviously he's going around the country handing out money to servers; he"s got to be a pretty good guy."

The man revealed little about himself.

"He acted like he'd been in before.  He didn't have any food but said it was the best food in Phoenix so I guess he'd been in before."

The behind-the-scenes benefactor didn't give a reason for the tremendous tip or offer any explanation for what he was doing in the Valley.

"He mentioned maybe the Stanford vs. ASU [PAC 12 Championship] game.  Maybe he's in town for that," suggested Olson.

Evidence would suggest the man with the wide-open wallet is a college football fan.  The Tips for Jesus Instagram account shows another tab with a big tip from a bar in South Bend, Ind., the day Notre Dame played USC this season.

Either way, the gift is a Christmas miracle Olson doesn't plan on taking for granted.

"Me and my girlfriend's life is going to get a little bit better for the holidays," he said. "My life is going to get a little better for the holidays.  [I'll] probably give a little bit to my favorite charity, make their life a little easier."

Olson said he could easily reprint the receipt and discover the identity of the generous tipper but said it's more fun to let it remain unknown.