Buccaneer brings Christmas Eve cheer to Tampa restaurant with $1K tip

TAMPA, FL - DECEMBER 18: Defensive Tackle Sealver Siliga #96 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Raymond James Stadium on December 18, 2017, in Tampa, Florida. The Buccaneers lost 24-21. (photo by Mike Carlson/Tampa Bay Buccaneers)

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — A Tampa Bay Buccaneers player is making highlight-worthy plays off of the football field.

Defensive tackle Sealver Siliga left a generous tip at a local Applebee’s on Christmas Eve.

News Channel 8 spoke to an employee who benefitted from the gesture.

(AP Photo)

Ryan Preston tells us he was not scheduled to work at the restaurant on West Gandy Boulevard on Christmas Eve, but filled in for a friend.

“It was a really slow night,” said Preston. “I think I had maybe six or seven tables total.”

Preston, who has been a server at the restaurant for the past two years, tells us he spotted a noticeable pair at the bar.

“There were these two big guys sitting at the bar. I did not know who they were,” admits Preston.

He knows one of the men now. It was Sealver Siliga.

“I am in the back and the manager comes back and says, ‘Hey! The guy out there is a Bucs player. He wants to tip all of you $100 just for working on Christmas Eve,’” Preston said.

The server says he initially thought it was a joke.

“Everyone was thinking the same thing. This is not real,” said Preston. “I did not believe it was really happening until I saw him writing on the tip sheet.”

The manager and the bartender double checked the number of people who were on the clock. They both counted ten employees.

“On the tip sheet, he wrote a $1,000 tip,” Preston said.

Each employee received $100, including the person washing the dishes.

“He never really sees any tip money but even he could go home and have a good night with his family,” said Preston.

The money will help Preston pay his bills.

“As a server, we get paid every night so I may make enough but I may not,” he said. “I was still kind of sweating it because I spent what I had on gifts so that $100 really went a far way.”

He was able to thank Siliga on Christmas Eve but wanted to do it again.

“Thank you so much. We are not really used to that kind of stuff down here in South Tampa but it was awesome, an amazing experience,” Preston said.

The Applebee’s would not confirm the exact total on the original bill, but Preston believes it was about $250.

Siliga declined to speak to us, saying he does not want any added attention for the gesture.

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