Ellen DeGeneres gives good-deed waitress a new car

Leave it to Ellen DeGeneres to end the week on an uplifting note. On her Friday show, DeGeneres presents a free car to a waitress she'd earlier rewarded for picking up the check for two furloughed soldiers, leaving the grateful woman weeping, and thrilling the studio audience.

It all started back in October when Sarah Hoidahl, a 21-year-old single mom and waitress at a New Hampshire Ruby Tuesday's, waited on two uniformed National Guard officers who were discussing the fact that they'd been furloughed.

When the meal was over, Hoidahl presented them with a note saying she'd taken care of the check.

Shout+out+to+our+team+member+Sarah+for+going+above+and+beyond+to+truly+#serve+those+who+serve+our+country!+pic.twitter.com/DJhfFDM1AX

—+Ruby+Tuesday+(@rubytuesday)+October+10,+2013+

Word of her good deed spread quickly, with Ruby Tuesday and the New Hampshire National Guard tweeting about the story. And when DeGeneres asked Hoidahl to appear on her show a week after the event, she joked as if she was just going to pay her back for the $27.75 meal, even counting out money into her hand. But when the host went to dig for the 75 cents, she instead presented Hoidahl with an enormous check for $10,000.

That wasn't enough, though. On Friday's show, DeGeneres had a show producer pretend to be a reporter and travel to the restaurant to interview Hoidahl about her good deed. Then she was handed a phone with DeGeneres on the other end, and the host brought the topic around to the fact that Hoidahl and her mother share an old car.

"It's got four wheels and gets us from Point A to Point B," Hoidahl said, telling DeGeneres that her mother and her friends help her take her young son to daycare and help drive her to work.

  • Slideshow Photos

    Christopher Polk / Getty Images North America

    Image: 39th Annual People's Choice Awards - Portraits

    Ellen DeGeneres

    A look at the life and career of the actress, comedian, talk host and latest “American Idol” sensation.

  • Image: 39th Annual People's Choice Awards - Portraits

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Lucky 13 -

    TV personality Ellen DeGeneres poses with her 13th award for favorite daytime TV host for during the 39th Annual People's Choice Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Jan. 9, 2013.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: BESTPIX - 39th Annual People's Choice Awards - Backstage And Audience

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Look who's 'Friends'! -

    DeGeneres, right, poses with her wife Portia DeGeneres, left, and actress Jennifer Aniston backstage at the 39th Annual People's Choice Awards on Jan. 9, 2013.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Ellen DeGeneres, Sofia Vergara

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Curves ahead -

    DeGeneres, left, reveals her Halloween costume in the likeness of actress Sofia Vergara during the taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in Burbank, Calif., on Oct. 30, 2012.

    AP / AP
  • Image: DeGeneres smiles as her family and friends, including de Rossi, applaud her entrance at the Mark Twain Prize ceremony in Washington

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Queen of comedy -

    DeGeneres smiles as her family and friends, including wife Portia DeGeneres, left), applaud her entrance at the Mark Twain Prize ceremony in Washington, DC, on Oct. 22, 2012. DeGeneres is the 15th recipient of the prize for humor, joining recent past honorees Will Ferrell, Tina Fey, Steve Martin and George Carlin.

    Reuters / Reuters
  • Image: Ellen DeGeneres Honored On The Hollywood Walk Of Fame

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Her place in Hollywood -

    DeGeneres gives a thumbs up as she is honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on Sept. 4, 2012.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards Presented By Ketel One And Wells Fargo - Dinner and Show

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    GLAAD to have her -

    DeGeneres speaks onstage at the 23rd Annual GLAAD Media Awards presented by Ketel One and Wells Fargo at Westin Bonaventure Hotel in Los Angeles on April 21, 2012.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Michelle Obama and Ellen DeGeneres

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    98 ... 99 ... -

    DeGeneres, left, challenges first lady Michelle Obama to a push up contest during a taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in Burbank, Calif., on Feb. 1, 2012.

    Warner Bros. via AP / Warner Bros. via AP
  • 2011 Teen Choice Awards - Show

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Cowabunga, Ellen! -

    DeGeneres accepts the Choice Comedian award onstage during the 2011 Teen Choice Awards held at the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, Calif., on Aug. 7, 2011.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Ellen DeGeneres

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    The people have spoken -

    DeGeneres, winner of Favorite Daytime TV Host, speaks onstage at the 2012 People's Choice Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. Live in Los Angeles on Jan. 11, 2012.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • MBFW Spring 2011 - Official Coverage - Runway Day 1

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Top model? -

    Degeneres walks the runway at the Richie Rich Spring 2011 fashion show during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week at The Studio at Lincoln Center in New York on Sept. 9, 2010.

    Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz / Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz
  • The Postal Service Dedicates The Animal Rescue: Adopt A Shelter Pet Stamp

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Tongues are wagging -

    DeGeneres attends the Postal Service dedication of a new Animal Rescue: Adopt a Shelter Pet stamp at the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences in North Hollywood, Calif., on April 30, 2010.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: "American Idol" judges

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Joining the 'Idols' -

    When Paula Abdul balked at returning to "American Idol," an opportunity arose for DeGeneres, a longtime music lover, to join the show. She joined Randy Jackson, Simon Cowell, Kara DioGuardi, and host Ryan Seacrest on the hit Fox singing compeition.

    FOX / FOX
  • Image: People's Choice Awards 2010 - Show

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    The people's choice -

    DeGeneres collected the People's Choice award for favorite talk show at the 2010 awards, her 11th such award. She joked, "Oprah, I love you and I'm sorry your show got canceled."

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards - Arrivals

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Happy couple -

    DeGeneres and wife Portia de Rossi attend the 36th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards at The Orpheum Theatre in Los Angeles on Aug. 30, 2009.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: 35th Annual People's Choice Awards - Show

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Rocking the stage -

    Singer Kid Rock presented DeGeneres with the favorite talk-show host award at the 2009 People's Choice Awards in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images for PCA / Getty Images for PCA
  • Image: Ellen DeGeneres

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Really big show -

    DeGeneres performs during ''Ellen's Even Bigger Really Big Show'' during The Comedy Festival at The Colosseum at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas on Nov. 20, 2008.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: The Comedy Festival Day 1

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Getting a leg up -

    DeGeneres, center, even joined a kickline of dancers during the taping of "Ellen's Even Bigger Really Big Show."

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Image: Ellen DeGeneres, Portia de Rossi

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Two brides -

    DeGeneres poses with actress Portia de Rossi, right, on Saturday, Aug. 16, 2008, after the couple exchanged wedding vows in an intimate ceremony at their Beverly Hills, Calif., home.

    Lara Porzak Photography via AP / Lara Porzak Photography via AP
  • Image: Actor Gyllenhaal presents talk show host DeGeneres with roses during a taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in Burbank California

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    For me?? -

    Actor Jake Gyllenhaal presents DeGeneres with 400 white roses to celebrate the 400th episode of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" on Nov. 9, 2005.

    Warner Bros. via Reuters / Warner Bros. via Reuters
  • A man waits for a bus 29 October, 2004,

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Citizen Ellen -

    A man waits for a bus in New York across the street from a huge banner of DeGeneres urging citizens to vote in the 2004 presidential election.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • TIMBERLAKE ELLEN DEGENERES

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Do a little dance ... -

    Justin Timberlake, left, makes a surprise appearance during a special taping of "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" in Burbank, Calif., on Thursday, May 27, 2004. As DeGeneres danced her way to her chair after completing her monologue, Timberlake made his entrance.

    Telepictures Productions via AP / Telepictures Productions via AP
  • Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Daytime queen -

    DeGeneres holds her prize after winning the award for outstanding talk show at the 31st Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in New York on Friday, May 21, 2004.

    AP / AP
  • NBC's Access Hollywood Golden Globe Party

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Golden night -

    DeGeneres attended the Golden Globe Awards with Alexandra Hedison on Jan. 25, 2004.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Ellen Degeneres

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Booking it -

    DeGeneres appeared at a West Hollywood, Calif., book store to sign copies of her book "Ellen DeGeneres: The Funny Thing Is" in October 2003.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Fish tale -

    DeGeneres gave voice to Dory, a Regal Blue Tang fish with bad short-term memory and a big heart, in the 2003 animated smash "Finding Nemo."

    Walt Disney Pictures / Walt Disney Pictures
  • 53rd Emmy Awards - Show

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Dressed for the occasion -

    DeGeneres lampooned the dress worn by Bjork at the 2001 Academy Awards when the comedian hosted the 2001 Primetime Emmy Awards in Los Angeles.

    Getty Images / Getty Images
  • Saturday Night Live

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Live, from New York -

    DeGeneres plants one on Chris Kattan's goofy Mango character during a taping of "Saturday Night Live" on Dec. 15, 2001.

    NBC / NBC
  • Will & Grace

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Sister Ellen -

    DeGeneres played nun Sister Louise opposite Debra Messing, left, and Eric McCormack, right, in a guest appearance on "Will & Grace" in 2001.

    NBCU Photo Bank via AP / NBCU Photo Bank via AP
  • Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    40 years of drama -

    DeGeneres starred in and co-produced "If These Walls Could Talk 2," an HBO drama set in one house and spanning nearly 40 years, but featuring different lesbian occupants. In this segment, she played Kal, who is trying to have a baby with her lover Fran (Sharon Stone, left). Ann Heche, right, directed the segment.

    HBO via Getty Images / HBO via Getty Images
  • Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Long arm of the law -

    DeGeneres played Sgt. Rita Pompano in the 1999 thriller "Goodbye Lover."

    Warner Bros. / Warner Bros.
  • Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Turn on the TV -

    DeGeneres starred as a reality TV producer in the 1999 comedy "EDtv."

    Universal Pictures / Universal Pictures
  • Ellen DeGeneres (C), a nominee for an Emmy

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Walking the red carpet -

    DeGeneres brought her mother, right, and then-girlfriend Anne Heche, left, to the 1997 Emmy Awards. DeGeneres was nominated for best actress in a comedy series and best comedy writing. She took home the writing prize.

    AFP - Getty Images / AFP - Getty Images
  • Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Getting it 'Wrong' -

    DeGeneres starred opposite Bill Pullman in the comedy "Mr. Wrong" in 1996. The film was largely panned by the critics.

    Everett Collection / Everett Collection
  • Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    TV star -

    DeGeneres starred in her own sitcom called "Ellen" from 1994-98. Her co-stars included David Anthony Higgins, left, and Clea Lewis.

    Everett Collection / Everett Collection
  • Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    Alone in the spotlight -

    DeGeneres began her career as a stand-up comedian. Among her early performances was a 1992 showcase on HBO called "One Night Stand."

    HBO via Everett Collection / HBO via Everett Collection
  • The Tonight Show Staring Johnny Carson

    Ellen DeGeneres

    of

    When mullets were cool -

    Early in her career, in 1987, DeGeneres made an appearance on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson," a dream launching pad for any ambitious comic.

    NBC / NBC

Then another show employee came up to Hoidahl as the two were talking and presented her with the keys to a shiny red 2014 Hyundai Santa Fe Sport parked outside the restaurant. As Hoidahl sat in the driver's seat, she cried.

0:00
 
0:00
Your video begins in
0:00
TOP