CLEVELAND (AP) — The man who famously put aside his McDonald's hamburger to help rescue three women held captive in an Ohio house said Friday that he's not endorsing a group of restaurants that are offering him free burgers for life and wants his name kept out of it.
Charles Ramsey was called a hero after helping Amanda Berry, Gina DeJesus and Michelle Knight break out of the Cleveland house May 6. Homeowner Ariel Castro faces charges. His defense team has said he will plead not guilty.
Ramsey had noted in an interview with a local TV station that he was eating McDonald's when the scene unfolded. He also spoke of it in a call to police.
The restaurant where Ramsey worked as a dishwasher initially created a special burger named in his honor, called the Ramsey Burger. Then more than a dozen area eateries had decided a larger tribute was due.
Ramsey said he doesn't endorse the restaurants that are offering burgers bearing the Ramsey name, or that are promoting a lifetime of free burgers for him.
"I never told these people they could use my name for this," Ramsey said in a written statement released through attorney, Patricia Walker.
The owner of the restaurant group said in a statement Friday evening that it will drop the burger from the menu, The (Cleveland) Plain Dealer reported.
"We are saddened to hear that Chuck did not take this — or the offer of so many Cleveland restaurants to give him free meals — in the spirit we intended," Scott Kuhn of the Driftwood Restaurant Group said in a statement, the newspaper reported.
A message seeking additional comment was left Friday at the Driftwood Restaurant Group in Cleveland, and at an attempt was made to reach Ramsey at Hodge's restaurant.
The statement from Ramsey's attorney said he has not authorized any merchandise. "Ramsey encourages people to do things that will help the victims," the statement said.
It's unclear whether Ramsey would be accepting free burgers.
Ramsey's TV interview and call to police about the women became popular online, and McDonald's caught wind of Ramsey's mentions.
Local McDonald's franchises in Ramsey's neighborhood have offered him complimentary food at their restaurants for the next year, a spokeswoman for Oak Brook, Illinois-based McDonald's Corp. confirmed Thursday.
McDonald's also has made a $10,000 donation to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children in the names of the three women and Ramsey.