May 4, 2009 — -- The Domino's Pizza employee who last month posted an online video of a co-worker violating a host of public health codes, grossing out millions of people and causing a public relations headache for the international franchise, is apologizing for the incident and says the backlash from the stunt is preventing her from finding new work.
Kristy Hammonds, 31, tells ABC News that she has become a local pariah and cannot find work to support her two children after filming her co-worker in the kitchen of a Conover, N.C., Domino's putting cheese in his nose, blowing mucous on a sandwich, appearing to pass gas on food and putting a sponge he would use to wash dishes between his buttocks.
Hammonds, a registered sex offender who faces felony food tampering charges from the Domino's incident, says she has been turned down at several area fast food restaurants, including Taco Bell and McDonalds, when employers recognized her name and face.
Hammonds and Michael Setzer, her 32-year-old co-worker and the video's star, were both arrested after the video was posted online, and charged with food tampering, a felony in North Carolina. The store at which they worked was shut down to be restaffed and disinfected, according to a Domino's spokesman.
"This is Michael's special Italian sandwich," Setzer says on the video, before taking a piece of mozzarella cheese from his nose and putting it on a to-be-delivered sandwich.
Hammonds apologized for making the video, which was cut into multiple segments and distributed widely across the Web.
Soon after the video went viral Hammonds e-mailed the company to say it was a hoax and none of the food depicted was ever delivered.
She says her inability to find work has made it difficult to raise her two children, aged 4 and 8 months, whom she conceived with the aid of a sperm donor. The baby, she said, has special needs.
Domino's Video Becomes PR Headache
When the employees' video hit the Internet and went viral last month, Domino's Pizza knew it was facing a public relations crisis capable of damaging its well-regarded 50-year-old brand in a matter of days.
Domino's was the latest company to be on the wrong end of a "Twitter storm," a spontaneously formed digital mob that rapidly shares information. The company's swift response to the employees and its wider customer base, using the same Web sites and media that were used to spread the video, has been praised by observers who nevertheless wonder if the company can emerge unscathed.
The digital mob played a role in alerting the company to the errant employees and tracking down their identities. Readers of the consumer affairs blog consumerist.com, on which the video was posted early in the week, tracked Hammonds down through her YouTube account and identified the store by matching an exterior shot in a video with an image on Google maps.
"With customers' help, we were able to find the store and identify the people involved," said Domino's spokesman Tim McIntyre. "By Tuesday, we had contacted the franchise owner, given him the info we had and told him to take quick and decisive action."
McIntyre said he first learned of the video from people who found it online and called or e-mailed him or the company.
Part of Domino's approach to handling the outcry of disgusted patrons was for McIntyre to directly respond to individuals, targeting bloggers who spread the video and whom he hoped would disseminate the company's response.
Rather than issue a formal press release to the mainstream press, which McIntyre feared would only encourage more people to find and view the video, he targeted the online audience that had expressed an interest.
"I'm savvy enough to know that if I'm contacted by a blogger, whatever I say is going to get posted," McIntyre said. "Even if I think I'm responding to an individual, I'm potentially talking to millions."
Domino's Shares Apology Via YouTube
When the company received the e-mail from Hammonds apologizing for the prank and claiming the tainted food was never delivered, Domino's "copied e-mail verbatim and shared it with everyone," McIntyre said.
The company then posted a video response on YouTube by company president Patrick Doyle, in the hopes that the same Twitter members and bloggers who spread the video would spread the corporate reaction and apology.
"We sincerely apologize for this incident," said Doyle. "We thank members of the online community who quickly alerted us and allowed us to take immediate action."