Elvis François made global headlines in January when he was rescued from distress off the coast of Colombia after living on nothing but ketchup, garlic powder and a few bouillon cubes mixed with water for 24 days. Since then, the ketchup manufacturer Heinz has been trying to locate the 47-year-old to give him a new boat. Using social media, the hashtag
François was found in his home country of Dominica, Heinz said on Instagram. "We received thousands of likes, shares and kind messages in our search for Elvis François. It was an incredible group effort across six continents that led to hundreds of articles and leads and finally our contact with Elvis. Thank you internet. You have at
Everyone who shared, liked, or commented on the Instagram search call helped increase reach and played an important role in the search for Elvis, Heinz told USA Today. "Heinz would like to thank everyone who helped."
The company also thanked the local reporters from Dominican news site Emo News, who eventually put François in touch. Emo News had initially published an interview with the wanted person on Facebook, in which they explained that they had tracked him down on the island of Dominica. "Tell Heinz that he's here in Dominica," the reporters wrote. A little later, the company replied in the comments column: "Incredible. We sent you a direct message - let's get Elvis his boat!"
Meanwhile, Emo News confirmed on Facebook that Heinz's representatives spoke to the 47-year-old via zoom conference. The ketchup maker explained that it is now "working out the logistical details to gift him his new boat".
François was driven out into the Caribbean Sea in December while repairing his sailboat off a port on his home island of St. Martin. Because he had no cell phone service, no navigation skills, and the boat was not manoeuvrable, he was unable to call for help or get back to shore and wrote the word "HELP" on the hull of his boat.
After 24 days, about 220 kilometers southwest of the Colombian port of Puerto Bolívar, he finally managed to use the sun and a mirror to attract the attention of an airplane. The Colombian Navy then rescued the shipwrecked man with the support of a merchant ship. His boat stayed behind at sea.
Sources: Heinz Ketchup on Instagram, Emo News, "USA Today"