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Jessie Hamilton, seated, reacts as she is presented with a check to pay off her mortgage as LSU FIJI graduates gather to surprise their former house kitchen staff member, Saturday, April 3, 2021, and celebrate "Jessie Hamilton Day" in Baker, La. Behind her are, from left, FIJI graduate Andrew Fusaiotti, Hamilton's sons Andre' Hamilton and Craig Hamilton, and her granddaughter, Jamiah Hamilton.

Jessie Hamilton, who made such an impression on the LSU fraternity brothers she cooked for that they paid her mortgage years later, was featured on NBC's broadcast of Nightly News with Lester Holt on Wednesday evening.

At the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Andrew Fusiaotti checked in with Hamilton, who had been the cook at the Phi Gamma Delta House when he was at LSU in the late '80s. He was disheartened to learn that she was still working two jobs at age 73, so he rallied his former fraternity brothers to raise money.

They raised $51,765, which they used to pay her mortgage and give her $6,675. They broke the news to her at a surprise 74th birthday party, which they dubbed "Jessie Hamilton Day." 

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"That day was the best thing to ever happen to me in my life," Hamilton said on Nightly News. "For those young men to help me, this was Jessie's day."

The story featured both Hamilton and Fusiaotti.

"There is no way that I can repay you, but I can pray for you," Hamilton said to Fusiaotti in the interview on Nightly News. 

Fusiaotti assured her she already has.


Email Matthew Albright at MAlbright@theadvocate.com

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