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It seemed like the perfect viral story. A little girl gets turned away at a Jackson, Mississippi Kentucky Fried Chicken because of her scars. The Internet mobilizes to raise money for her and slam the corporation. But it turns out that the entire story may be a fake.
The story went that Victoria Welcher, 3, and her grandmother, Kelly Mullis, went to a KFC after a doctor’s appointment. Mullins told a local station that an employee asked her to leave because Victoria’s face disturbed other customers.
Victoria suffered injuries from a vicious dog attack and, when a picture of her disfigured face went viral, supporters mobilized to raise money for her. According to USA Today, Victoria received $135,000 in cash, free surgery and other gifts.
However, the Leader-Call in Laurel, Mississippi, claims that it was all a hoax. A source for the paper said that there was no surveillance footage that showed Mullins and Victoria at the KFC on May 15. The source also claims that records do not show anyone placing an order for mashed potatoes and tea at the time the grandmother said she did.
After the Leader-Call’s story was posted, the family took to the Victoria’s Victories Facebook page, promising that it is not a hoax.
“The article circling the web calling this a hoax is untrue,” the statement reads. “The article it self say the investigation is not complete. It is not over until KFC releases a statement. The media outlet running this story is not connected with KFC. The family has not asked for anything, a attorney is handling all the media publicity for the family pro bono. Please do not believe untrue media. I have personally watched this family go without to provide for Victoria. They have not and would not do anything to hurt Victoria in any way.”
As the family noted, the Leader-Caller story does note that there is still an ongoing third party investigation.
KFC has said that it is still taking Victoria’s story seriously and will still commit $30,000 to Victoria’s medical bills. “Since we have so far not been able to verify the incident in our internal investigation, we have also hired a third-party consultant to conduct an independent investigation to help us resolve this matter,” KFC said.