Update 2/12: Read our follow-up story on the Junior phenomenon here.
For 14 years, Ishmael Mohammed Jr.—more commonly known as “Junior” or simply “the Wendy’s Guy“—was a beloved campus icon. Now he’s reportedly fallen on hard times, and one Texas Ex wants to help him get back on his feet.
Junior worked the cash register at the Wendy’s in the Union from 1998-2012. His incredible speed—he broke the world record for most fast-food transactions (246) in 30 minutes—astounded all who met him.
And Junior’s inimitable sense of humor could bring a smile to the face of even the shyest student. Among his signature phrases: “Touchdown, baby,” “Let’s kick ass!” and “Junior puts the fast in fast food.” He was even the subject of a documentary by Stephen Stephanian, BA ’07.
In 2012, Junior announced he was leaving Austin to move back to his hometown of New York. That was the last we’d heard of him until Thursday night, when Benjamin McPhaul, BA ’11, says he spotted Junior on the West Mall.
McPhaul says he and his fiancée had just left a Cactus Cafe show when a man asked them if they could spare a few dollars. “It took me a moment, and then I knew it was Junior,” McPhaul says. “He told me his mom had died and that he was homeless.” McPhaul wasn’t carrying any cash, but he says he offered to buy Junior a meal, which he declined. Then they went their separate ways.
McPhaul wanted to do more to help. So this morning he set up a page on Gofundme.com and spread the word on social media. In five hours, he’s received more than $3,500 in donations. He hasn’t gotten back in touch with Junior yet, and he’s not sure how or when he will. But McPhaul says when he does, he’ll keep us updated.
“I want to make sure the money goes to help him better his life,” McPhaul says. “He’s a great guy and it just makes sense to help him. He made going to Wendy’s really fun.”
An employee who answered the phone at Wendy’s in the Union this morning said only that she had not heard from Junior.