It started on Jan. 9 with a message from a Cincinnati burger joint. "To the gentleman and his daughters who left this incredibly generous tip this afternoon, with big smiles on our faces, we want to say, thank you!" Zip's Cafe posted on Facebook, thanking the patrons for their $1,000 tip on a $55 tab. But it was the note that accompanied the tip, asking the owner to share it with all of the workers and exclaiming "Go Xavier!," that has since spurred what ABC News calls a "rival tip war." After word spread on the generosity of the Xavier University fan, who had been in town to bring his daughter on a tour of the college, a second Facebook post about a week later from the Keystone Bar & Grill revealed its staff had also received a generous group tip for exactly $1,001, one-upping the Zip's Cafe customer's gratuity by a buck. "Let's see how long we can keep this going," the Keystone customer's note said before mentioning the University of Cincinnati's football team: "Bearcats up by 1!"
Since then, the "Crosstown Tip Wars" between the two hometown schools have brought in nearly $35,000 as of Feb. 6, per ABC's number-crunching. Zip's Cafe owner Mike Burke tells CNN that the mere 3-mile distance between the colleges has been a boon. "[It's] one of the closest rivalries in college sports," he says. "I think the proximity has definitely helped drive the traction on this very generous, feel good movement." He tells ABC he hopes the gratuity challenge continues during the pandemic, and that "it spreads to everybody that's working hard and struggling a bit." As for who's come out ahead, ABC has a count as of Feb. 6: Ten tips mentioning Xavier have so totaled around $10,700, while UC's 15 add up to just over $22,000; the highest tip has been $2,500 from a UC fan. One charitable party decided they just couldn't choose, leaving a $1,500 tip at one local eatery with a note that read: "I love both teams. Support our restaurants!" (Read more uplifting news stories.)