The janitor who rose to fame as the unlikely creator of the binge-worthy Flamin’ Hot Cheetos has been outed as a fraudster. Richard Montañez, whose (quite literally) unlikely story led him from the ground floor to the upper echelons of Frito-Lay’s management, was a pure invention of his own making, the Los Angeles Times reports. As the story goes, the humble Mexican-American came up with the idea for the super spicy snack and took it to the company CEO. The flavor became so popular it was featured in memes, videos and even streetwear. All the while, Montañez capitalized on the fame, writing two memoirs, speaking across the country, and becoming the focus of an upcoming biopic directed by Eva Longoria.
Frito-Lay did nothing to stop the mythical story despite the fact that the snack was actually the brianchild of Lynne Greenfeld, a junior employee, who came up with the name in 1989 and whose recent query into why she got none of the credit spurred an internal investigation. “None of our records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market,” Frito-Lay wrote in a statement to the L.A. Times. “That doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate Richard, but the facts do not support the urban legend.”