Ketchup Boat Guy is getting a new boat.
Heinz has tracked down Elvis Francois, 47, who survived at sea for almost a month — 24 days — on little more than ketchup. The company recently put out a social media search for Francois in order to buy him a new boat.
“We need your help tracking down an amazing man with an amazing story,” Heinz posted to Instagram on Feb. 14. “You may remember Elvis Francois as the brave sailor who survived on nothing but ketchup and spices while adrift at sea for 24 days. Well, Heinz wants to celebrate his safe return home and help him buy a new boat … but we can’t seem to find him.”
Here’s one of the tweets from the Colombian Navy after rescuing Francois, who is from the Caribbean island nation of Dominica.
Desde el aire se estableció la ubicación del velero en emergencia que tenía la palabra “HELP” (Ayuda) grabada sobre su casco.
Se dio aviso a las unidades en tierra y mar, donde el buque mercante CMA CGM VOLTARIO se unió a la labor de rescate.#ProtegemosLaVida ⚓ pic.twitter.com/DSGZU6fdeK
— Armada de Colombia (@ArmadaColombia) January 18, 2023
Heinz went on to encourage its followers to use the #FindTheKetchupBoatGuy hashtag to get the search for Francois trending.
It did indeed find him after two more posts, including one where the company declared it was at an impasse in finding Francois after contacting the Colombian Navy and the government of Dominica and hearing from several “fake” Elvises.
Emmerline Anselm of the local Dominican news outlet EmoNews knew that he lived in a community near her. So, she traveled to the town of Anse De Mai — and found him. Because he didn’t have a phone, it had been harder to reach him. EmoNews shared a Facebook Live video on Feb. 22 where the man himself recounted his story.
Francois was repairing his boat in Saint Martin in December when it drifted away from the shore. His radio didn’t work and no help arrived. He survived for 24 days at sea by collecting rainwater and rationing a bottle of ketchup, some garlic seasoning and stock cubes he had aboard. He also tried eating a little seaweed.
After a plane spotted the “help” sign Francois carved into the boat’s hull, he was rescued off of northeast Colombia on Jan. 16.
In the EmoNews Facebook Live video, he described himself as “quite a mysterious person” who likes to travel — and to take risks.
To the skeptics who wondered how he lived for almost a month on a bottle of ketchup, he thinks ketchup being tomato-based provided some vitamins for his body. Some sources indicate a person could survive for up to two months without food, though not without water.
“It’s very vital for the body,” Francois said about the ketchup, noting that doctors pronounced his body “still OK” after the ordeal. “Everything happens for a reason,” he told EmoNews.
Soon after EmoNews posted its live video, Heinz’s Facebook account commented on it. And on Feb. 25, EmoNews posted an image of Francois captioned, “Emonews can confirm that the representatives of Heinz had a successful meeting with Elvis Francois via Zoom Conference call at 12noon on Friday 24th February 2023.”
Heinz told Insider that they are working on the logistics of getting him a new vessel. Earlier in the month they’d told “Today” they wanted to get him “a new boat equipped with full navigational technology to avoid another disaster in the future.”
He ended up getting more than a new boat, too. Flow Dominica, a local phone company, also gifted him with a means of communication after hearing he didn’t have one. In this Facebook post from EmoNews, a representative presents him with a TCL cell phone.