On 3 March 2016, the web site Empire Herald published an article claiming that a woman was arrested for masturbating with a Happy Meal toy inside a McDonald's ball pit. The claim gained ground on social media when it was aggregated by a similar site, That Viral Feed, in May 2016:
Sharon Krueger, 36, was arrested yesterday after she was caught masturbating at a McDonald’s Play Place using her son's Transformer Happy Meal toy. Her lewd conduct left patrons and children at the restaurant in dismay, causing mass panic.
Sharon Krueger was witnessed by several customers and their children, sexually please herself inside the ball pit at the McDonald's Play Place. The incident occurred around 6 p.m. yesterday according to reports. Krueger had taken her 6-year-old son, Daniel Krueger, to the restaurant to get him dinner. Afterwards, she left her son at the table to eat as she went to the restroom. According to eyewitnesses her 6-year-old son was crying because he was unable to locate his Transformers Happy Meal toy. Another parent at the restaurant approached the young boy and asked him if he knew where his mother was. The child told her that his mom had went to the restroom.
“One of our customers came up to the register and informed us that a young boy was crying because he didn't have his Happy Meal toy and that his mother was in the restroom,” said Karen Boyd, an employee of the McDonald's location. "I grabbed two Happy Meal toys and took them over to the young kid and apologized for his Happy Meal not having the Transformers toy. The young boy thanked me and then asked if I could get his mom because he was ready to leave. I went to the ladies restroom and called for Ms. Krueger but no one answered. I checked the stalls and no one was inside the restroom. I went back to the register and called Ms. Krueger over the loudspeaker and let her know that her son was ready to leave. After about 10 minutes of waiting, I went into the Play Place area to see if she was there possibly looking for her son. When I went inside, I saw the most disgusting conduct from a parent ever in my life. The woman had almost the entire body of Optimus Prime inside of her." Boyd added.
The claim was yet another fabrication from fake news purveyor Empire Herald, which features no disclaimer warning readers that its articles are exclusively fake news and "satire." Previous hoaxes promoted by that site included claims about a dog meat restaurant, another about a serial killer who purportedly carved "Black Lives Matter" into his victims' skin, and a falsehood about a man committing suicide over the Harriet Tubman $20 bill.