Heinz tracks down Ketchup sailor who survived 24 days at sea eating only the red sauce – as they prepare to hand the 47-year-old a new boat
- Heinz announced Monday that it has found Elvis Francois, who was rescued by the Colombian army after spending 24 days adrift at sea
- François was working on his boat when it drifted away from a dock in St. Maarten in December
- He revealed to the Colombian Navy that he had been feeding himself ketchup and condiments until he was found on January 16
Heinz’s all-out search for a man who ate ketchup adrift at sea for 24 days is finally over.
The company launched a social media campaign to track down Elvis Francois and gift him a new boat after the Colombian military rescued him 160 nautical miles from Puerto Bolívar in the Caribbean Sea on Jan. 16.
Heinz revealed it found the 47-year-old with the help of a local news outlet on the Caribbean island of Dominica.
“We received thousands of likes, shares and kind messages during our search for Elvis Francois,” the Pittsburgh-based company said Monday. “It was an incredible group effort across six continents that led to the hundreds of articles and leads and our eventual contact with Elvis. With your help, we were able to find #FindTheKetchupBoatGuy.”
The deckhand spoke to a Heinz representative via Zoom on Friday, according to CBS News.
Elvis Francois spent 24 days adrift in the Caribbean Sea eating only ketchup and spices before the Colombian army rescued him
The 47-year-old talked to Heinz last Friday and the company is making arrangements to gift him a new boat
Francois was working on his boat when the weather drifted away from a dock in St. Maarten.
He had nothing but a bottle of ketchup and condiments to satisfy his hunger while he waited to be rescued.
‘I had no food. There was only a bottle of ketchup on the boat, garlic powder and (bouillon cubes) Maggi,” Francois said in a video released by the Colombian Navy. “So I mixed it with some water so I could survive in the sea for 24 days.”
A stranded Francois saw others passing nearby and was unable to attract their attention despite starting a fire on his sailboat.
His luck changed when he caught the attention of a small plane flying overhead and noticed he had carved “help” into the boat’s hull.
‘The last few days, around January 15, I saw an airplane. I had a mirror. I made some signals,’ he said. “They passed the boat twice, so I realized they saw me. Thanks to them, I am thankful to be alive today.”
Francois was lost at sea for more than three weeks before being spotted by an overhead plane. When he used a mirror to signal the plane, he knew it worked when it flew over him twice
Heinz followed up social media flashbacks with a Feb. 16 post on Instagram featuring an image of the island of Dominica with the caption, “He’s here somewhere. We just don’t know where.’
Dominica news outlet EmoNews tracked down Francois and helped mediate the meeting with Heinz.
The company said it has worked with Francois to “gift him his new boat.”
“Everyone who shared, liked or commented on the brand’s post helped expand its reach and was instrumental in finding Elvis,” Heinz said in the statement. “Heinz wants to thank everyone who helped.”