The woman who gained infamy in 2005 when she planted a severed finger in a bowl of Wendy's chili is out of prison. One of the conditions of her probation is that she never set foot in the fast-food chain again.
In her first interview since her release, Ayala admitted to CBS affiliate KPIX-TV that she had cooked the finger in a bowl of chili and later transferred it into a Wendy's container.
"I cooked it," she told KPIX.
Ayala said that, following a Wendy's recipe, she made the chili at her home in Las Vegas, froze it for several months, and eventually drove to a Wendy's restaurant in San Jose, Calif., where she pretended to find the finger in her meal.
"Wendy's had nothing to do with this," Ayala said.
Ayala was released from prison nearly a year ago after serving four years of a nine-year sentence. "I'm changed," Ayala, 44, told KPIX. "Prison changes a person."
She said she granted the interview so that she could publicly apologize and begin getting on with her life. "I deeply apologize," Ayala said. "I hurt a lot of people. I hurt my family, my children, due to my stupidity."
Ayala's initial claim that Wendy's was to blame for the finger in the chili set off a firestorm of negative publicity that the restaurant chain estimates cost it $21 million in lost sales, according to the San Jose Mercury News.
An investigation launched by the San Jose Police Department revealed inconsistencies in Ayala's story, and the finger was ultimately traced to Brian Rossiter, a co-worker of Ayala's husband, Jaime Plascencia.
Rossiter later testified in court that he lost the finger in a work accident and gave it to Ayala's husband to settle a $100 bet. On Jan. 18, 2006, both Plascencia and Ayala were found guilty of attempting to extort money from Wendy's.
"I think about it every day," Ayala told KPIX. "What was I thinking?"