Starbucks customer who refused to wear mask wants half of $100K donated to barista she shamed online

A California woman says she wants half of the money raised on GoFundMe for a Starbucks barista after she complained about him making her wear a mask.
/ Source: TODAY

A fundraiser for a Starbucks barista that was triggered by a Facebook post from a California woman venting about being refused service for not wearing a mask raised more than $100,000 last month.

The San Diego woman, Amber Lynn Gilles, who wrote the now-deleted Facebook post says she feels she deserves half of the $105,445 that was raised in a GoFundMe campaign for barista Lenin Gutierrez.

"It was discrimination and everybody is okay with it and enabling and rewarding that behavior," Gilles told KGTV in San Diego.

Gilles also told The New York Times on June 27 that she wanted half of the money "because they’re using me to get it." At the time, the GoFundMe has raised about $87,000.

“They’re using my name, they’re using my face, and they’re slandering me,” she said.

Watch TODAY All Day! Get the best news, information and inspiration from TODAY, all day long.

She started a GoFundMe page of her own on July 2 to raise money "to pay for legal fees to redress my character" after claiming she had been "slandered and defamed" by the fundraising page for Gutierrez.

"This is because I was discriminated against and I was sticking up for myself against legitimate discrimination," she wrote.

This week, Starbucks started requiring all customers to wear masks or facial coverings when ordering inside its cafes, regardless of local or state guidelines.

Gilles told KGTV that she has symptoms which prevent her from wearing a mask.

"One of them I get is shortness of breath, dizziness and it messes with the heartbeat,'' she said. "And I do have asthma as well, and I do get mask-acne. So there’s several things going on, and not only that, but (wearing a mask) doesn’t even work."

During the interview, Gilles produced a handwritten note from a chiropractor saying she has "has underlying breath conditions that prevent her from wearing a mask or any type of facial covering whatsoever." She was asked by KGTV why she got a note about her breathing capabilities from a chiropractor.

"Because they are dedicated to providing non-invasive personalized care and treatment," she said. "They are real doctors."

Gilles did not respond to a request for comment by TODAY.

In her original June 22 Facebook post, Gilles posted a photo of Gutierrez with the caption, "Meet lenen from Starbucks who refused to serve me cause I’m not wearing a mask. Next time I will wait for cops and bring a medical exemption."

Her post went viral and prompted Matt Cowan, an Irvine resident who did not personally know Gilles or Gutierrez, to start a GoFundMe page for Gutierrez. He titled it: "Tips for Lenin Standing up to a San Diego Karen." It raised more than $105,445 before Cowan ended the campaign.

Gutierrez responded by posting a grateful video on his own Facebook page.

"I just wanted to say thank you for all the love and support and what everyone is doing is an honor to see all this happen, but I just wanted to remind everyone to be kind to one another, and to love each other and always remember to wear a mask," he said in the video.

Cowan also posted a video on July 9 showing him delivering the cash to Gutierrez in person.

Gutierrez, who is also a dancer, said he wants to use the windfall to study kinesiology at California State University, Fullerton.

"I just want to use this money to accomplish my dreams," he said.

Cowan also commented on Gilles' claim that she now deserves half of the money donated to Gutierrez.

"Thought this was over but it just keeps getting better #StarbucksKaren," he wrote on his Facebook page Wednesday. "Karen seriously thinks people should apologize to her for ‘discriminating’ her."