Heinz launched a campaign to find a fisherman who was stranded at sea for 24 days and says he survived by eating nothing but ketchup and seasonings.
On February 14, the ketchup manufacturer made an online plea for assistance locating Elvis Francois to celebrate his return home to the Caribbean island of Dominica and gift him with a new boat.
“We need your help tracking down an amazing man with an amazing story,” the company told social media followers. “Don’t forget to share this post with all your friends so we can #FindTheKetchupBoatGuy.”
According to Heinz, the company had already reached out to the government of Dominica and the Colombian navy, which rescued him northwest of Colombia’s Puerto Bolívar. However, none of the attempts proved successful at first.
After seeing Heinz’s appeal, a local media outlet called Emo News tracked him down in Dominica. “I knew Elvis lived in the community near me and I took a drive to go and look for him – and found him,” Emerline Anselm, the CEO of Emo News, told Business Insider.
Anselm posted a Facebook Live video with Francois on Thursday to show he had been found. Her quick thinking and outreach in the local community helped connect Francois with the Ketchup company.
A Heinz representative saw the video and commented: “We’ve hopped into your DMs – let’s get Elvis his boat!” The 47-year-old said that he heard from several people that Heinz was trying to contact him, but he didn’t have a phone to reach them.
According to Emo News, a representative from Heinz spoke with Francois via Zoom over the weekend. Local telecommunications company Flow also gifted Francois a cellphone after getting word that he didn’t have one.
He said he felt “quite excited. Depending on the size of the boat, I could use the boat to do fishing or tours of the Caribbean.”
Francois was in Saint Martin in December, repairing his boat, when it suddenly drifted out to sea. He says he survived for 24 days by eating ketchup with garlic powder and seasoning cubes three times daily.
He was rescued on January 16 about 120 nautical miles northwest of La Guajira, in northeast Colombia, after a plane saw a “help” sign on his boat, according to The Associated Press.
Francois says he hasn’t returned to the water since his harrowing ordeal but hopes that day will come “soon.”