Heinz offered the fisherman who survived 24 days at sea a new boat with GPS, but he didn't get enough money to buy one with a navigation system

Collage of Elvis Francois side by side with his new boat
Elvis Francois says he stills needs more funds to fit out his boat.Elvis Francois
  • Heinz appealed to the internet to find a fisherman who survived 24 days at sea on ketchup.

  • It offered to give Elvis Francois a new boat with a GPS system to celebrate his survival.

  • Heinz said the "ketchup boat guy" preferred cash so he could get a new boat more quickly.

The "ketchup boat guy" who was offered a new fishing boat with GPS by Heinz says he feels "kind of" disappointed after only getting enough money for a small boat and engines.

The company offered to give fisherman Elvis Francois a new boat complete with a navigation system after learning he'd survived 24 days lost at sea on just ketchup and seasonings.

Francois told Insider he could only afford to buy a small used boat and engines as the money Heinz gave him "wasn't enough" for a sailboat. That's despite the company telling The Washington Post it planned to give him "a new boat equipped with full navigational technology to avoid another disaster in the future".

The ketchup maker launched a viral social media campaign in February to find Francois. Within days Dominican media outlet Emo News tracked him down and helped him connect with Heinz.

Photo of Elvis Francois' new rowboat
Elvis Francois said his new boat needs a paint job.Elvis Francois



Insider has learned that Heinz gave Francois 40,000 East Caribbean (EC) dollars ($14,800) for a new boat.

Heinz asked Francois if he wanted to receive money or for the company to buy him one, and he chose to take the money, both said.

The 47-year-old told Insider the cash couldn't pay for a sailboat like the one he had previously, but that he could at least get a small vessel and resume fishing right away.

He added that he didn't think he could ask for more because he's "from a very small village" and doesn't have "a proper education."

"You can't force anything in life, I just have to accept it as it is," he said.

He spent EC$18,000 on a small boat and EC$20,000 on two motors. Insider has viewed documentation of the sum Heinz paid him and receipts for what Francois has spent.

"I wouldn't go out in the water with one engine because it's too risky, that's why I had to buy two engines," he added.

Francois said he needed more money to buy a GPS system and other parts including a steering wheel. He's been selling fruit at his local market to make more money, he added.

Heinz insisted it "discussed the amount" of EC$40,000 and "expedited" the payment to Francois.

A Kraft Heinz representative told Insider: "We're surprised and sorry to hear that Mr Francois is disappointed with Heinz's monetary support. While our intention was to purchase him a new fishing boat, once we were able to locate and discuss with him directly, he indicated that money would be preferred and most beneficial.

"We quickly researched and determined that our donation was sufficient to purchase a higher-quality boat than what he previously had, if he chose to do so, while also keeping in mind any tax implications that he might incur. As our only goal here was to delight Mr Francois, if he was not able to purchase the boat that we had discussed, we're happy to take a look and determine if additional funds are needed."

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