Locals, Lawmakers Raise Thousands For Lansing's 'Hot Dog Guy'

By: Shannon Kantner Email
By: Shannon Kantner Email

Clint Tarver was trying to do what he does best during the right-to-work protests.

"To give out hot dogs," Tarver, Lansing's official hot dog man for more than five years, said. "I'm not this side, I'm not on that side. I'm just here trying to make money because people asked me to come out and sell hot dogs."

His sales were cut short though when things heated up Tuesday, and protestors trampled the tent he was under. Tarver said men yelled racial slurs at him.

"People standing on my table, smashing it, dumping my chili out on the ground, cheese sauerkraut," Tarver said. "Throwing the soda and coolers."

They ruined his hot dogs and buns as well, causing about $400 worth of damage for Lansing's favorite hot dog man. When word got out, people had a tough time swallowing what happened. Lorilea Zabadal, a Republican staffer for Representative Al Pscholka set up an online fundraiser at Support Clint with a $2,000 goal that was met by 10 a.m. Wednesday morning. Zabadal couldn't believe the support the website fund got so quickly, and not just because she's a vegetarian.

"What happened to Clint absolutely broke my heart, and I thought, hey, someone has to do something about this," Zabadal said. "I never expected this. I never imagined that at all."

Supporting Clint is something both sides of the aisle can agree on right now. Republicans have already asked him to cater a lunch before the legislative session ends, and democrats are next in line.

"He's a friend to a lot of people that work here in downtown Lansing," Democratic Floor Leader-Elect Rep. Rudy Hobbs said. "So, it was important for us to go out and support him, and make sure he's whole again."

Lt. Governor Brian Calley donated $100 and tweeted about it, while even a Representative in Arizona contributed. A local union said they're sending a check Thursday. The website itself - Go Fund Me - told Zabadal it wants to help advertise Clint's cause.

"I'm just so overwhelmed with that, because I had no idea...people liked me so much," Tarver said.

Clint has plans for his more than $23,000. He said he'll donate some to his church and "bling out" a new cart.

"I'll definitely get a brand new cart with some more added stuff onto it," Tarver said. "Things I've always wanted."

His fans are already putting in requests.

"I'm hoping that he'll maybe start serving veggie dogs," Zabadal said.

The website will be up and running as long as people keep donating.

This is Tarver's off-season for the hot dog cart. It will be back open in March.


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