Linda Tirado, aka Killer Martinis, Gets Over $50,000 After ‘Poverty Thoughts’ Essay


Linda Walther Tirado, or “KillerMartinis,” has received over $50,000 in donations after she wrote an essay about her thoughts regarding poverty.

The blog post, posted on her Gawker profile page, was titled “Why I Make Terrible Decisions, or, poverty thoughts.”

In it, Tirado discusses poverty and how it affects people, making herself the main example. 

UPDATE: Is Linda Tirado (KillerMartinis), Author of Viral ‘Poverty Thoughts’ Essay, Really Poor?

“Rest is a luxury for the rich,” she wrote. “I get up at 6AM, go to school (I have a full courseload, but I only have to go to two in-person classes) then work, then I get the kids, then I pick up my husband, then I have half an hour to change and go to Job 2. I get home from that at around 1230AM, then I have the rest of my classes and work to tend to. I’m in bed by 3. This isn’t every day, I have two days off a week from each of my obligations. I use that time to clean the house and soothe Mr. Martini and see the kids for longer than an hour and catch up on schoolwork.

“Those nights I’m in bed by midnight, but if I go to bed too early I won’t be able to stay up the other nights because I’ll [mess] my pattern up, and I drive an hour home from Job 2 so I can’t afford to be sleepy. I never get a day off from work unless I am fairly sick. It doesn’t leave you much room to think about what you are doing, only to attend to the next thing and the next. Planning isn’t in the mix.”

In her post she explores how when she was pregnant she was living on food stamps and in a weekly motel, with a minifridge and a microwave, and how the closest Planned Parenthood to her is several hours away.

She also explores fast food (“convenience food is just that. And we are not allowed many conveniences”); depression (“You have to understand that we know that we will never not feel tired. We will never feel hopeful. We will never get a vacation. Ever.”); and poor financial decisions (“I make a lot … None of them matter, in the long term. I will never not be poor, so what does it matter if I don’t pay a thing and a half this week instead of just one thing?”)

Tirado now says that her life has changed drastically as a result of her post going viral and her getting the tens of thousands of dollars in donations on gofundme. “I have more money to work with than I have ever had at a time in my adult life,” she said.

She has quit her second job to work on becoming healthy and seeing her kids more, and she has also received a book offer and is writing a book proposal. 

“I have decided to do the thing properly,” she wrote. “I am taking the month of December and following the orders of people who have offered advice: doctors, nutritionists, lawyers, financial advisors, trainers, beauticians. They will teach me what I need to know in order to make this transition into a new part of life without [messing] it up too hard, and I am taking advice from any and all corners.”

What will she do with the money? She said she’ll spend some doing research that she wouldn’t be able to do even with a book advance, “like staying in Louisville for two weeks to talk to people all over the income scale about stratification and what it’s meant for them.” She added that it is possible she will give money to people who she runs across that need it, including paying bills for some of her friends.

“I cannot find words to tell you how completely my life has turned around in the last week,” she said. “I am grateful for the opportunity. I will not waste it. Thank you, so much, for being a part of it, because I can do good things. And now I have the chance to. That means everything.”

Many people responding to the post on various websites, including her page and Twitter, have congratulated her for her success and encouraged her book writing.

“Although I don’t agree completely with everything you said in your essay, I am happy to see that you have received such a positive response,” said Tina Shang. “If you opened some eyes to what its like to live in poverty then you have achieved something great already. . I do hope that you will do good things in the future with your good fortune here. Keep the momentum going, and become a voice for the marginalized an impoverished.”

“I tried to read the piece aloud to my wife,” said Temy Beal. “About halfway through I broke down and sobbed. Rarely have I seen someone write so correctly about how it feels to be poor. I was born poor as dirt as my parents before me and theirs before them and I will die so as did they. It is the knowing that nothing will ever really change for me that is hardest when I think of it, and makes me grateful for the sweet release of oblivion, whenever that may come. I wish you success with your book. :)

At the same time, some criticized Tirado for continuing to raise the fundraising goal on gofundme and accused her of tricking people into donating money. 

“I read your piece and quite enjoyed it, however it became tainted once I came to this page,” said Ashley Salyer. “Why do you keep increasing your goal amount? Have you even begun to write? I was poor growing up and in my early adult life, and now I am considered ‘middle class’ because I have busted my butt by couponing, searching for deals on every purchase I make, and keeping a very strict budget for my family. You have raised more than what my “middle class” family makes in a year, so why is it that you need more? I am a writer myself and I know that the amount of money you have raised already should buy you plenty of time to finish a book on this topic, and with all of the publicity you have received you should have no problem with publishing. You have been blessed already. Don’t be greedy.”


  • Luxxe

    Just one issue: she has since confessed on her fundraiser page (after being called on some of her claims) to not being poor at all. Private school education; college; house provided by family.

    • kitty

      “I had private music lessons from the age of four. I was an award-winning singer, piano, and flute player by seven. I owned twenty-three instruments when I was twelve. I toured Europe as a featured soprano the summer after I graduated high school.

      http://killermartinis.wordpress.com/

      It’s important that she is facilitating a discussion about poverty. I just think she would have SO much more credibility if she wasn’t profiting from multiple GoFundMe accounts with tens of thousands of dollars. The donation comments included people who were already very hard up (who most likely hadn’t toured Europe) giving her money and that doesn’t sit right, with me at least.

  • Ct_girl

    She is a fraud! Probably never poor, her linkened profile says she has been a freelance writer for three years, and had worked successfully for many years before that. Also her teeth look perfectly fine on her twitter page. I am calling BS

    • http://hipcider.com/ tdhurst

      Yeah, a lot of times “freelance writer” means “I do whatever I can to survive and some of it is writing that other people pay me to do for a few hundred bucks.”

    • belle

      People are already figuring it out. Her facebook pics from two years ago (where she’s definitely not poor) are already all over Gawker. Can you post her LinkedIn?

      I’m thinking this will all be wrapped up by next week. They’ll expose her lie and she’ll have to give the money back.

  • OhYeahBaby

    She blames her teeth for that. Apparently she was hit by a drunk driver when she was 19 and took the insurance settlement and used it for things other than fixing her teeth.

  • djsmps

    Another essay by her from Reddit (http://www.reddit.com/r/TalesFromRetail/comments/13uw60/physics_too_hard/):

    Physics: Too Hard (self.TalesFromRetail)

    submitted 12 months ago* by killermartinis

    I manage a fast food restaurant. Business is unpredictable in the afternoons, so my rule is to cook fried product to order – when an order for chicken comes up, my cooks tell the cashier how long the cook time is, and the cashier explains to the customer that we’re making their food fresh and how long it’ll be. Most people either thank us or change their order if they’re in such a rush that they can’t spare three minutes.

    I got called to the counter a couple days ago because a student (it’s a college town) was throwing a temper tantrum about chicken strips. A throwing-things-and-stomping-her-feet tantrum. I explained that if we kept fried food around at all times we’d either be sending out really shitty food or would quickly go bankrupt from waste. At this point she’d been raging for longer than she would have waited to begin with, all the while telling me that I didn’t understand my job and screaming that she’d have me fired. My crew loves these customers because I generally lose my temper eventually (ten minutes into a complaint, I get evil) and this one showed promise. She kept on for a while, and I started looking at the textbooks she’d put on the counter. All math and physics. I pulled out my phone, called her physics professor, explained the situation, and put him on speaker so that he could explain the science of why it takes time to heat something from frozen to 165F. Then I offered to call an English professor who could explain the words “leave” and “unwelcome.” She left fairly quickly after that.

    Lesson: Everyone knows everyone else in a small town, and the laws of physics don’t change just because it’d suit you better.

    EDIT TO CLARIFY: didn’t expect the amount of response! I am not a science person, but dated the science prof and know most of the people who teach in the department. It’s not a huge school.

    • belle

      “I pulled out my phone, called her physics professor, explained the situation, and put him on speaker so that he could explain the science of why it takes time to heat something from frozen to 165F.” Suuuuuuuuure she did. Good God.

  • Luxxe

    Killermartinis has also in the last two days discussed using fake IDs to counter people questioning her MO. “DUDE.
    I am going to have to think up another burner name! Do you know how
    long it took me to think of this one? Jesus, my face and hometown are on
    my ranty jokey true account! I am keeping this one until it settles,
    because the places i was worried about have picked it up and nothing has
    come of it. But man, I need a burner so I can say things that you don’t
    say with your public face.” She seems to have started blocking even mild critics on her page.

    • OhYeahBaby

      Where did she say that?

      • Luxxe

        On Jezebel’s Groupthink pages.

    • TheWynne

      …she was getting trolls on Gawker. The essay wasn’t meant to be a big viral thing, it was something she posted to Groupthink just to get it out. And then the account that she was using for stress relief, the one that she never meant to be serious, got inundated with responses. She just wanted to comment anonymously again. Way to take something out of context.

      • Luxxe

        That’s fair enough! But she is certainly censoring comments that query her story in several forums and contexts. Or maybe it’s her new agents/PR people. She’s a commodity and a cashcow now. I’d love to see a follow-up article on her real experiences of life as a complex and difficult character who didn’t suit her middle-class milieu. She’s an amazing writer. But unless she can break free from the clickbait entrepreneurs, she’ll continue to have her wings clipped.

  • Mimosa22

    I recognized many similarities between what Linda Tirado describes her life to be, and the details of many of the families with whom I worked over the years while directing a housing program in a nonprofit organization that helped homeless families. I donated to her campaign, but I think I would have felt better about it if she had closed the campaign and worked on the writing when she reached her initial goal. Several people with impressive credentials and connections who have donated have offered, in their comments, to help her in a variety of ways. These are extraordinary opportunities that most aspiring writers, regardless of their backgrounds will never have. If she has the talent that she seems to have and works hard at the writing, success will likely come soon, and could provide an ongoing resource for working on the second dream of doing something bigger to help others in similar situations. I sincerely hope that she does not just keep increasing the goal until the bubble bursts, but I can understand the temptation.

  • niner_four_whiskey

    Just google her. She’s scamming everyone. I found her Googleplus scrapbook in about 5 minutes. She doesn’t look the slightest bit “poor”. In fact, she seems quite comfortably middle class. Everything in her article is one excuse after another of why it isn’t her fault she’s so pitiful. Arggh.

    • Luxxe

      Culturally more upper than lower middle class to boot. Montessori for the kids! I think she has now censored her earlier words about gratefully taking advice from nutritionists (when the pov charade was still in play) – like, Montessori kids would have to be the most Whole Foods fed and cultured kids on the planet! Lots of family money.

    • OhYeahBaby

      No she certainly does not seem poor. Hell she has a nicer kitchen table than I do!

      • Kitty Kat

        I don’t even have a kitchen table. Where’s my $62k in donations?

        • Belle

          I don’t have one either. Or a car. She has both in her pictures, and a couple of TVs (I don’t have one of those either) an electric guitar, and a guitar hero guitar

  • loungecat

    While I appreciate the general points made in her ‘essay’ about the cycle of poverty in America, she comes across as a fraud.
    Questions:
    1. Why does she write like a Brit? Certain word choices, sentence constructions…(I’m a dual national and had to learn British English when living in UK.) Someone called her pretentious for using ‘whilst’; she countered with “I read”. Only British books? I doubt many Americans start using the word ‘whilst’ because they read (unless deeply pretentious) whereas it’s commonly used in Britain. Same applies to a number of other phrases used more in Britain than the US.
    2. Who is her agent? She claims to need money so she can spend time writing a book proposal for her new agent. If she truly has an agent, there’s no problem with naming names.
    3. Her ‘pay me money’ page is supposedly all about funding her time to write a book proposal. Most new writers would be delighted with $50k to write. But now her target is $100k and if that’s reached she’ll raise it to $150k. For what? Oh, some kind of fund to help others…

    nice idea, but all very vague. Transparency?
    4. The ‘tax lawyer’ she has approached… when will there be an update on the fund (or whatever it is) she is supposedly setting up? Again, why not name the tax lawyer / company?
    5. Has a journalist met this woman in the flesh or interviewed her?
    6. JT LeRoy anyone?
    All those kind people out there should give their donations to a trusted organisation that will truly help the impoverished… or to a homeless person on the street.

    • Joseph Kasak

      “350 a fortnight” definitely a Brit.

    • belle

      JT LeRoy
      James Frey
      Go Ask Alice
      Kaycee Nicole Anthony
      Tony Johnson

      Why do you think no one but Examiner, Gawker, and HuffPo (which screws up stories on a regular basis — little boy “manhandled and harassed in Wal-Mart for wearing a headband,” anyone?) have covered this? Because the news agencies that have the resources to verify her story either have’t been able to confirm it or have been turned away by her. These other sites send an email or talk on Skype and call it good.

      • loungecat

        Yes, I watched the HuffPo video interview/ hagiography. Hardly journalism.

        • belle

          I’m hoping this is all wrapped up in a week and the money returned

  • Luxxe

    kristinbarrick I was initially puzzled by why she would take the risk of asking for money (begging) online, when she is so clearly going to be VERY financially successful and fifty grand is going to be chicken feed (mind you, I don’t think fifty grand is a lot of money in her family context). The timing you’ve outlined clarifies it a little. In context, she looks way less strategic, and more out of her depth. HOWEVER. She is a seasoned campaign manager – that requires smarts, nous, strategy, planning etc. Her household had three incomes: her hubby’s income; her own well-paid contract as a campaigner; and her job managing some sort of restaurant (not quite “night cook”). In the Huffpo interview she stated – less than 24 hours ago – that her paycheck is “$350 a fortnight”. She didn’t mention that that is one of her TWO paychecks, and vastly the smaller of the two paychecks. I expect the consultancy paycheck would be in the region of $25 an hour at the very least. That sort of ongoing dishonesty is going to get her into trouble. I’m sensitive about the issue because 8 or so years ago I paid a lot of money for James Frey’s supposed autobiography about his experiences as a drug addict. Marketed as truth and fact. Later it emerged that it was fiction. If Linda Tirado is a brilliant fiction writer and/or polemicist about OTHER people’s issues, that is what she needs to be identifying herself as. It’s all very well to refer to the “overwhelming” situation. That would have washed until about a week ago. Until she kept bumping up the gofundme target, and a bunch of anguished poor people started posting that hey, they are poorer than she is, and they just gave her ten bucks. There can’t really be anything more classless than calling America on its classism, while exploiting poor people herself …

    • loungecat

      A very clear and measured analysis. Last sentence sums up my own reservations perfectly. People felt quite rightly betrayed for buying the ‘autobiographical novels’ of James Frey and JT LeRoy (Laura Albert in disguise), which were fictions that made the authors (and publishers) money from people empathising with a lie. This is more overt.

  • Mimosa22

    This has been a difficult thread to follow. Interesting, but
    difficult. I donated a very small amount, as did many other people,
    based on her story which included details that I recognized as common
    among people with lower incomes. For many years, I’ve been rather obsessed, myself, with
    trying to find ways of relieving poverty, especially for families with
    children, and at first as she kept raising the campaign goal, I thought
    it was not only okay, but commendable, given her bigger goal. Then I
    began to think that the more times she ups the ante, the more criticism
    she would expose herself to, and the more possibilities for something to
    go wrong. When poverty is involved, it always seems that the skeptics
    and cynics will eventually insinuate themselves into the picture.

    So, I was rather relieved to hear that she was closing the campaign, at that
    point totaling more than $60,000. Between the money donated and the
    offers for assistance by publishers and others, she should be just fine.
    I now look forward to reading more about what she does, and what this phenomenon may mean for others in the very large and crowded boat holding the poor.

  • OhYeahBaby
    • Luxxe

      Wow. New car, polished parquetry, musical instruments, art materials, hardcopy newspaper, mix of antique and shabby chic furniture … so not poor! Good find, ohyeahbaby. Quelle scameuse scabreuse!

  • Kitty Kat

    Have you looked into her updates at all? She admits she was making a lot of things up. She is far from poor. (And, with $62k in free money, will now have more money than most of us will ever see in our lives. We just don’t whine to the Internet about it.)

    • http://hipcider.com/ tdhurst

      You’ll never see $62k in your life? Seriously?

      • thenonsequitur

        Why is that so surprising to you? A lot of people make just barely enough to make ends meet (or less than that). And even many of those that manage to keep savings will not reach $62k. If that doesn’t seem like such a large amount to you, it just means you have never actually been financially living day to day.

        Ten years ago, I never thought I’d see that much. But I lucked out with being interested in something that turned out to be a marketable skill, lucked out with a wonderful social support network, and landed a lucky job, all of which brought me up to the middle class, where it is much easier to launch yourself higher from. I feel so financially successful right now, but $62k is still far away in my radar. But that fact that it’s in my radar at all is very fortunate. If I ever $62k at some point, I know how much luck will have played a part in it, and I know that many people will not have that same luck.

      • belle

        Sure, Kitty Kat will see 62 grand in her life. Just probably not in a tax-free lump sum.

        • thenonsequitur

          Good point, belle. I realize now the source of the confusion, and both parties are right. Just depends on whether you consider the situation from the perspective of “have $62k+ in bank account right now” vs. “will make $62k+ over the course of lifetime”.

    • Luxxe

      Kitt Kat One of her correspondents (calling themselves wouldliketoknow) is referring to a real estate deal in 2004 that (the correspondent says) netted Linda $100,000. Or maybe they were confusing it with her insurance payout. I wonder though whether that has any truth to it – why would someone raise it with her on Jezebel if not?

  • belle

    Yes, it does. There are several pictures of her on her Facebook page looking very well-groomed. She had perfect teeth in her interview two days ago with HuffPo.
    All of these things and the fact that she admitted (after $50 grand in donations came in) that she’s not poor now, wasn’t poor when she wrote the essay, and wasn’t born poor.

  • belle

    k, so it sounds like Linda Tirado is the source of your information. Why don’t you look at the links that contradict everything she says?
    Her teeth are perfect.
    She isn’t poor and wasn’t at the time she wrote the essay.
    She eats great and healthy food (the pics are on Gawker in the comments section) under her article
    There is a photo of her on the South Utah University webpage from 2004: she was a sophomore. She was 21 or 22 in that picture and her teeth are, again, perfect. No one knocked her teeth out. That’s another lie.

  • Luxxe

    Very true. She did say last week (don’t have the link, sorry) that the bill for her teeth NOW would be $4,000 outside of the current insurance (interestingly, she DOES have medical insurance through work, and apparently this old damage would be covered). I do wonder why her family – who could afford private school fees – haven’t paid for her teeth. Her parents/grandparents own property and could easily do a redraw on their mortgage, and killermartinis could have paid them back over ten years. If not having nice teeth has been the reason she believes she has been underemployed, with nice teeth she would have been able to stump up (pardon the pun) ten smackeroonis a week. Without resorting to gofundme. She clearly spends much more than that on alcohol and cigarettes already!

  • belle

    Bogus. It matters a whole lot when people lie for financial gain.

    • Superman

      Exactly. If she lied, she’s not doing anything for the poor! And her “book” will not be genuine experiences, but what other people told her.

    • Tina Shang

      I didn’t say it was right or it doesn’t matter if she lied and is a scammer. My point is that there is nothing I personally can do about it except hope she does right by the people who supported her and become a voice for poverty.

      • belle

        She has done nothing but further stereotypes about the poor, all based on her middle-class girl’s fantasy of what poverty must be like. She is a disgusting human being.

  • Superman

    Being poor is frustrating. That’s the one word I would describe it. Those cuss words flow more freely from an otherwise good Christian person. Just reading part of what she wrote, a big problem that she has is negativity. She is cursing herself whenever she says bad things about herself and her situations. Death and life are in the power of the tongue. The best thing she could do is accept Jesus as her Lord and Savior. Then, start using your faith. It is impossible to please God without faith. Jesus said, “Have faith in God. For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those things he says will be done, he will have whatever he says.” (Mark 11: 22-23) Poor Christian people, speak to your mountain. Instead on dwelling on the situation/mountain (i.e. poverty), say aloud, “I am rich”. Claim aloud the things that you want. It gets even better when you have Bible scriptures to back-up your claims. The Lord wants his children to come boldly before him. For more info on financial prosperity, watch some Kenneth Hagin sermons on YouTube.

  • Superman

    Translation: Keep donating to that charity that only pays out 5% of the donations to support the advertised cause. Kim Kardashian, anyone?

  • Belle

    No, it started to go viral and she set up a GoFundMe for ten grand, then raised it to 55k, then raised it to $100,000. Racketeer. Scammer.

    There won’t be a book. When the agent (if there is really an agent) figures out she’s lying, bye-bye book deal.


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