Jamies Winston – Chapter 5 – Publix Seafood

Winston diving for the catch in right field against Indiana.
Winston diving for the catch in right field against Indiana.

Winston Publix Surveillance Video

What happened exactly?

On April 29th, 2014, Jameis Winston received an Adult Civil Citation for shoplifting roughly $32 worth of seafood from a local Publix. This event came after the Seminoles football team won the National Championship, Winston had won the prestigious Heisman Trophy and in the middle of baseball season for the Seminoles.

Winston entered the Publix store on N. Ocala Rd just before 9pm EST and picked up an order of crawfish and crab legs. According to Leon County Sheriffs Office (LCSO) reports, he came to Publix to place the order, left and returned to pick them up then left the store without paying for them. LCSO made contact with Winston later that night around midnight to handle the issue and issue.

Was it a mistake or did he purposely steal them?

By all indications and by Winston’s own admission to the LCSO, it was a mistake. He acknowledged to leaving Publix without paying for the items, said he forgot and realized it after he returned home, then made no effort to return to the store and pay for the items before LCSO deputies arrived somewhere around midnight the same night.

Other than him just saying it, why should we believe it was really a mistake and he didn’t just lie?

You can never absolutely know for sure of course unless you are Jameis Winston, but let’s look at some of the evidence we can find.

Police:

In the video linked above, you can see an officer come out from behind the Customer Service Counter and leave out the same door just before Winston leaves. This was an entrance door with no checkout lanes in front of it and right next to the entrance to the administrative offices with managers and others frequently passing by in this corner of the store so you can be easily spotted shoplifting. It is also right in front of the makeup aisle, which after speaking with a Publix Loss Prevention contact, is the aisle they monitor the most since makeup items are stolen the most and cause the most revenue losses given their small size and high prices.

On the opposite side of the Customer Service Counter is a set of exit doors 2-3 times wider than the entrance area because it is where all the lines and registers are. Beyond the exit doors is another set of doors between the bakery and deli with a single checkout area over there.

If you are stealing something, it makes no sense to use the same door, where employees frequent the most, a police officer is using and walk out about a six feet behind him with your stolen items being held right up in the open and drawing more attention to yourself doing it at the only door in the store meant solely for entering the store. You have two other exit options where the officer was not within proximity and would fit into a crowd better and draw less attention to yourself by walking out with others leaving after paying for their items.

There have been some accusations floating around that it is something smart criminals do, the unexpected by walking out near a police officer and he planned it that way. That seems to be ridiculous based on the video and common sense. Jameis Winston has never had any issue being caught stealing anything before or after this incident so to assume he is some mastermind criminal who is up to date on the latest criminal techniques in between his time in the classroom and on the field is a bit absurd. Let’s recall, this is a kid who has never been in trouble, has been exceptional on the playing field and has kept his grades high enough he was accepted to one of the toughest universities to get into in Stanford before enrolling in FSU, has been a member of the All-ACC Academic Football Team and one of only two players honored for their academic success last year in the relatively new Golden Torch Banquet. If he was such a criminal mastermind, I doubt he would do it near where potentially employees would be around, near an officer, near the aisle a Loss Prevention officer would likely frequent and through the entrance door where other shoppers are making their way in.

You can see in the video, Winston comes all the way down the first aisle where the makeup is across from the Pharmacy and never changes his pace. He walks all the way from the back of the store where you can see the dairy products, all the way out the front without changing his pace while not being able to see, much less plan, on following the officer out the door.

Two angles of Winston walking straight from the back of the store right toward the door.
Two angles of Winston walking straight from the back of the store right toward the door.
Publix Officer 1
Publix Officer leaving behind the Customer Service Counter before leaving out the front door.
Publix Police Officer leaving out the front door.
Publix Police Officer leaving out the front door.
Winston walking out the front door of Publix just feet behind the Police officer.
Winston walking out the front door of Publix just feet behind the Police officer.

Protocols at other stores:

Other grocery stores often have a different procedure in place for ordering items from a deli, seafood or other department and you can often pay for your items there, if not required to in some cases.

If you are used to the process another store uses, it can understandably be easy to make a mistake and walk out without the feeling you are stealing the item and just go with your usual routine.

Less than two miles away and around the corner from this Publix location is a Winn-Dixie store location. This store has such a process and had been frequented by Winston prior to this incident.

TomahawkNation.com, one of the leading local news outlets who cover everything about Florida State athletics, covered the story as it unfolded. The day after the incident, Tomahawk Nation tweeted confirming Winn-Dixie uses a different protocol and Winston had purchased crab legs from them previously.

Tweet by Tomahawk Nation.
Tweet by Tomahawk Nation.

The need to do it:

The final reason, and perhaps most important, he simply just didn’t need to do it.

Weeks before this incident, the NCAA changed their policies on how often a player could be fed meals after hearing of cases of players going hungry and programs violating NCAA rules by feeding hungry players when it was not allowed. Previously, players were only allowed three meals a day or a stipend. Sometimes weekends and trips had different rules. Obviously, football players are big guys in general and burn many more calories as athletes than the average student does, so it would seem to make sense only feeding them 3 meals a day during the week would not quite satisfy the hunger of most of them. Starting weeks before the incident at Publix, the NCAA changed their policy so programs can feed their athletes as often as needed so they will never go hungry.

At FSU specifically, they often have crab legs featured as their menu item as we recently found out when they were fed to recruits visiting for their football game against Clemson. About four years ago, Florida State introduced crab legs as one of their staple menu items for their athletes. That year, FSU released a video on the Jimbo Fisher Show about their new nutrition plan and the crab legs were mentioned as being a player favorite.

Here are some screen shots from the mentioned video highlighting the crab legs Winston can get regularly without having to steal them:

Crab legs for FSU athletes
Crab legs for FSU athletes
More crab legs for FSU athletes
More crab legs for FSU athletes

So clearly, he just didn’t need to. For all these reasons and more, it is easy to draw the conclusion it was an honest mistake just like Winston admitted to the officers that night.

Why wasn’t he suspended for a football game?

Originally, when Winston had the language incident, members of the media on national television kept proclaiming he was not punished at all for the incident because he had never been suspended for a game before until then.

Although it is true he had yet to be suspended for a football game to that date, he did receive fair punishment for this incident. It happened late in the baseball season just weeks before the ACC tournament. Winston received an Adult Civil Citation, fined $30, sentenced to community service and was suspended from the baseball team until the fine was paid and community service completed. This caused Winston to miss 3 baseball games, the entire series against the University of Minnesota.

Many may believe all Winston cares about is football and baseball is just something he does for fun in the offseason, but such an assumption is completely false. Most underestimate just what baseball means to him. One of the primary reasons he even committed to FSU out of high school, is because they were one of the very few to allow him to play both sports and he is sure to mention he wants to continue playing both in many video interviews such as the last ACC Media Day event and even mentioned Coach Mike Martin in his Heisman Trophy speech.

Baseball is extremely important to Winston, as is his baseball teammates. When teammate DJ Stewart was aggressively approached by the University of Florida firstbaseman during a midweek rivalry game last week after Stewart ran over both him and the pitcher in a legal play running down the line causing benches to clear, Winston was one of the first off the bench to come to the defense of teammate. Anyone who has ever played an inning of baseball at any level knows you do not just sit on your hands in the dugout when your teammate is being surrounded by members of the other team near their dugout. His actions and subsequent suspension from taking the crab legs caused him to let down those guys he would literally go to battle with which is punishment in itself for a player like Winston.

Video of benches clearing

Winston coming to the aid of a teammate against the University of Florida
Winston coming to the aid of a teammate against the University of Florida

You also can not suspend a player a second time when the season for another sport comes around just because he happens to be gifted enough to play two sports. Had it happened during football season, then sure, suspend him for a football game at most. That might be a stretch given the circumstances, but may be the only appropriate time, however if that had happened, nobody would have tried arguing he should have been suspended for a baseball game as well when that season finally rolled around. It would make no sense and neither does trying to suspend him for a football game based on what happened after he served a baseball suspension.

Finally, it’s just courtesy among coaches. Florida State baseball Head Coach Mike Martin, often referred to by his nickname 11, has been at FSU for over 30 years and is one of the most successful and respected baseball coaches of all time. Suspending Winston for a football game after he was already suspended for an entire baseball series, would make it seem as if baseball didn’t matter and would greatly undermine the authority of Florida State’s longest tenured athletic coach.

Conclusion

At the end of the day, the idea he purposely stole them just seems to make little to no sense. It looks like an honest mistake and he paid the price for it as he should have. Because of this event, he has become the butt of many jokes from rivals, football fans all around the country and even FSU fans themselves as has been seen on multiple ESPN Gameday shows and that’s great.

Even inspiring Halloween costumes.
Even inspiring Halloween costumes.

That’s what makes college sports so much fun. I would have been disappointed if it was not made a laughing matter. It’s crab legs, it’s silly, it’s just really funny, especially because of how stupid it sounds, and if you aren’t having fun with these kinds of things then you should probably reconsider your interest in the college football world. It’s a game, it’s supposed to be fun playing it, fun watching it and poking fun at teams and players for off the field issues is a part of that as long as you can have fun with it and take it as much as you dish it out.

A player who made a funny mistake and gave fans ammunition at funny jokes and signs? Yes. A mastermind criminal thief? Not at all.

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4 thoughts on “Jamies Winston – Chapter 5 – Publix Seafood

  1. First of all, I love the site and I am a fan of Winston.

    To argue that he didn’t intentionally steal these kind of discredits a lot of the other really good articles on this site. From an outsider’s perspective, I saw this and immediately thought it was a “fraternity” type of prank where his buddies were waiting outside laughing wondering if he would actually do it. I believe he just “did it for the story” because he is a college kid and that is what college kids do. It’s not like he is stealing jewelry or money- it was crab legs. I don’t think this is nearly as big a deal as it should have been but this is what 2014 sports journalism has become unfortunately.

    Ultimately, if I am looking at this as an NFL GM I am weighing the following:

    1. If the above story is 100% true and he walked out with crab legs without paying I am asking myself ‘How can he be so stupid?’
    2. If he did this as a college prank I am thinking: ‘Honest mistake and please learn from this and realize that these things will get blown out of proportion in the media’
    3. Does he have a shoplifting addiction? (See Joseph Randle). My brother use to work in a department store’s ‘Loss Prevention’ department (Basically he watched for shoplifters via security cameras). Most of the people shop lifting are not doing it for the reasons you discussed above (Need, money, etc.) They do it because they are addicted to the rush of stealing things. I don’t think its the case here but I think its something to consider.

    If I am a GM interviewing Winston I would talk about this incident as a litmus test towards his character. If his answer isn’t the 2nd option, I would jot down a potential red flag. Nobody cares about $30 worth the crab legs, its about what other issue this might be masking. Option 2 is the only realistic answer that both makes sense and doesn’t raise other questions. It says “My compensation for playing NCAA football is that I get to be a college kid; I was being a college kid.”

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    1. I’m not arguing he didn’t intentionally steal them, I’m just going by what the video shows and the video did not look like someone intentionally stealing them. Add to that the fact others had known of him purchasing them at another grocery location using a different checkout method and it can be seen as an obvious mistake and not as much a “how can he be so stupid” question. Many don’t realize that context so it was provided. So with that said, I don’t see how providing such info discredits the rest of the site. Thanks for the comment.

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  2. Big fan of the site and Jameis! Without a doubt, one of the few accurate sites on him that actually presents facts and evidence including on the bogus rape allegation against him. I’m hoping y’all update this section because of Jameis’s recent (maybe somewhat ill-advised) admittance of not paying for crab legs because of what many of us fans had already suspected: they were a gift from an employee. This makes the most sense, and seeing how admitting to this would’ve been snitching on his friend while also endangering his status with the NCAA, it also explains why he pleaded to shoplifting. I’m not sure if Jimbo knew even though he says he didn’t (possibly to protect his players who may have also been part of this), however I don’t mind Jameis being honest about it especially since NFL GMs have already verified his story. Publix can say how their investigation found nothing, but from what I’ve heard, all they did was question the employee who obviously said he didn’t. Either way, this kinda speaks pretty well of Jameis’s character that he didn’t get the employee in trouble at the time especially since the police and store would’ve been all over the dude.

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    1. Thanks for enjoying the site. We are going to go ahead and leave it as it is since we could only go by the facts we had at the time. We are working on a new Winston piece where we will likely address the new information there. Thanks again.

      Like

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