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After getting $1,000 tip herself, woman pays it forward

By BRAD SCHMITT
The Tennessean
NASHVILLE (AP) — Her TikTok videos can make you cry — bubbly Lexy Burke has been surprising and overwhelming restaurant servers, honky-tonk bands and barbers all around Nashville with $1,000 cash tips since May.
“I get so nervous before every one because you just know you’re going to shock someone,” Burke, 26, told the Tennessean.
Indeed, many recipients start crying or squealing or dancing before giving Burke a giant hug, all of which is captured on video by Burke’s singer/songwriter husband, Austin.
Lexy Burke’s TikTok followers — nearly a million of them — lap up the videos and pour tens of thousands of dollars into Burke’s Venmo account to fund her mega-tips.
The Burkes’ version of the “Venmo challenge” — where social media followers are asked to donate as little as 50 cents to a do-gooder to make a stranger’s day — recently went into hyper-drive after one of Lexy Burke’s videos went viral earlier this month.
On Aug. 8, the Burkes ran into a young man playing a violin outside Nashville West Target with a tip jar and sign that read, “Need to help my mom with rent — God bless.” Her videotaped $1,000 gift to him got more than 10 million views. More than $45,000 flooded into Burke’s Venmo account in the next two days.
At the same time, Burke’s TikTok followers more than doubled from about 400,000 to nearly a million.
Now, it’s the Burkes who are overwhelmed with all of the donations they need to give away. The couple said they probably will start giving $2,000 or $2,500 tips, and it’s the kind of problem they love having.
Lexy and Austin Burke both have had server jobs in Nashville, and she herself got a $1,000 tip in 2017 when she was working at Honky Tonk Central on Lower Broadway.
“It was literally the coolest thing ever,” Lexy Burke said. “I was just shook. I kept questioning why. ‘Are you sure?’ It’s a pile of emotions.”
So Lexy Burke wanted to replicate that feeling for others.
For recipients, it’s about more than the money, said Noshville deli server Toni Hayes, who got $1,000 from the Burkes on Aug. 2.
“It’s great to know there’s really good people out in the world. Everything, all the chaos and anger, went away for a minute,” said Hayes, 36, who immediately gave $20 to each of her fellow workers in the restaurant. “It really just gave me a sense of hope.”
For the Burkes, that kind of joy is addictive.
“After giving away money, I’m really excited and happy,” Lexy Burke said, “and really want to do it again.”