An employee at a Major League Baseball stadium was fired and arrested this weekend after a video appeared to show him spitting on a pizza he prepared at one of the ballpark’s food stands.
The video was taken during a Friday game at Comerica Park, home of the Detroit Tigers. The employee, clad in a ballpark cap and polo shirt, is seen hocking spit onto a pizza crust, then ladling marinara sauce on top. It’s unclear at which of the stadium’s food stands this occurred.
Fellow employee Quinell May filmed and posted it to Facebook and Instagram that evening, and the video quickly amassed tens of thousands of views and shares, catching the attention of managers at Detroit Sportservice, the company that runs the stadium’s concessions. A company spokeswoman said managers closed the stand in question and threw away any food that may have been contaminated.
Before the employee spat, he told May about his plan. That’s when May pulled out his phone, he said.
“I asked him, was he serious about that, was he really going to spit in a customer’s pizza?” May said during an interview with Detroit TV station WXYZ. “And he said, ‘Yeah,’ so I pulled out my phone to have proof, just in case he did it.”
May said the fired employee told him this wasn’t his first time, and May fears he could have been a serial spitter.
“He said he’s done it before,” May told WXYZ, although May said he hadn’t seen it before.
Detroit Sportservice has never had this problem at Comerica Park, said Victoria Hong, spokeswoman for its parent company, Delaware North.
“As soon as we became aware through social media of potential food tampering, we immediately closed that food stand, disposed of all the product and contacted the Detroit Police Department,” Hong said Monday in a statement to The Washington Post. She added that food safety is “our top priority” and said the company would “pursue all legal action to the fullest extent of the law.”
The former employee, who has not been named, was arrested Sunday, the Associated Press reported. Officer Dan Donakowski, a spokesman for Detroit police, told the outlet that the arrest “stems from a video going around.” On Monday, Maria Miller at the Wayne County prosecutor’s office said the office was reviewing possible charges against the man. The Detroit Free Press reported that the office would issue a decision Tuesday.
In social media posts and interviews since the video went viral, May has contended that Detroit Sportservice also fired him for “exposing this video,” but Hong said that May had not been fired and that “we have communicated that clearly to his attorney.” She said May told no one at the food stand about the video. May said he tried to, but was reprimanded for a uniform violation and for taking an overly long bathroom break.
May did not respond to a request for comment.
But at least one detail remains uncontested: What May filmed was gross.
“I can’t even describe my feeling on it. It just makes my skin crawl,” May told a reporter from WJBK, another Detroit TV station. “I just don’t have words for it. It was disgusting. Like, imagine if it was your pizza.”
On social media, ballpark attendees are doing just that.
Employing a food metaphor, one co-host of a local morning TV show tweeted his hesitation: “I know one bad apple should not spoil a bunch, but I don’t see a scenario in which I will purchase a pizza at comerica park anytime soon.”