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Gainesville man gets steak dinner on Letterman
Tim Burns sits in the audience of the David Letterman show July 12 in New York City, N.Y.

David Letterman might be more careful with communication with his audiences after a conversation with one Gainesville man cost him a steak dinner.

On July 12, Gainesville’s Tim Burns attended the filming of an episode of “The Late Show with David Letterman,” which aired the following Thursday.

Burns, who was in New York City visiting his daughter Briana, got free tickets from the show’s producers after answering a trivia question correctly. That trivia answer would eventually give him his five minutes of fame.

“Before the show, Letterman comes out and asks the crowd questions and jokes around with everybody and cuts up,” Burns said. “I told my daughter if he happens to ask us anything, I’ll just ask him where he likes to go eat, and we’ll check it out after the show.”

Burns raised his hand before filming started and asked the famous host where to get a good steak. Letterman recommended the nearby Gallagher’s Steak House and moved on.

“I didn’t think much else about it,” Burns said. “But during the show, (Letterman) started talking about some stooge or something out in the audience who’s trying to get a free dinner.”

Letterman joked about being “weaseled” for a free meal.

“I can tell when a guy’s working me,” he told the audience. “It’s not my first rodeo ladies and gentleman.”

But Burns didn’t mind the TV star poking fun at him a little bit and even forgetting his name.

“I just couldn’t believe it,” Burns said. “I just kept looking at Briana and saying, ‘Is he talking about us?’ And then it became obvious that he was.”

Instead of taking Burns out to dinner after the show, Letterman ordered in — two plates full of sirloin steak, spinach and baked potatoes.

Burns received the meal on a black cafeteria tray, laughing the whole time.

“It was like everybody in that whole place was looking at you,” he said. “And then they had the guy with the camera right there the whole time, just about. There were a lot of things going through my mind.”

Burns shared one of the meals with his daughter and gave the other plate to the people sitting behind him, who were from Atlanta.

After filming, Burns immediately called his wife, Myra. His co-workers also tuned in to see their friends’ debut.

“They recorded it and everybody watched it,” he said. “Everybody was cutting up about it.”

The only thing the meal was missing? Some southern sweet tea.

Apparently in the rush to order two steak dinners for some unsuspecting audience members, the Letterman crew forgot the beverages.

Drinks aside, Burns said he had a good time.

“I wasn’t embarrassed,” he said. “I was just kind of like, ‘Oh my goodness.’ I couldn’t believe he was talking about us.”

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