- Multiple people have accused YouTuber Jared “ProJared” Knabenbauer of sending and requesting sexually explicit pictures from fans, including at least two people who were underage at the time.
- The accusations surfaced after Knabenbauer’s wife, Heidi O’Ferrall, said that he had been abusive and confirmed that he had been “soliciting nudes from his fans for years.”
- The creator collective Knabenbauer belonged to, NormalBoots, said in a statement that they were first informed of the allegations on April 4, which prompted them to start an investigation and eventually cut ties with Knabenbauer.
- Knabenbauer has lost more than 200,000 subscribers since the allegations were made public.
Popular YouTube gamer Jared “ProJared” Knabenbauer has been accused of sending and soliciting sexually explicit pictures from his fans, including at least two individuals who were underage.
The allegations first came to light on Wednesday when Knabenbauer, who had over one million YouTube subscribers, announced in a statement on Twitter that he was divorcing his wife, cosplayer Heidi O’Ferrall.
O’Ferrall responded in a series of tweets accusing Knabenbauer of cheating on her and repeatedly lying about it. She claimed that he “gaslit” her for months and acted abusively.
He told his friends a version of events that omits his infidelity and portrays me as an aggressive and unreasonable person. As though I’m randomly angry and upset all the time, for no reason at all.— Heidi O’Ferrall✨ (@AtelierHeidi) May 9, 2019
It’s because he’s abusing me.
In a separate post, O’Ferrall also said that Knabenbauer “has been soliciting nudes from his fans for years.”
“I used to think that among consenting adults, it was fine,” she wrote on Twitter. “Now I see it as an abuse of power for him to intentionally manipulate anyone to show him their naked body on the basis that he’s a popular internet man.”
I used to think that among consenting adults, it was fine. Now I see it as an abuse of power for him to intentionally manipulate anyone to show him their naked body on the basis that he’s a popular internet man.— Heidi O’Ferrall✨ (@AtelierHeidi) May 9, 2019
I would like to apologize for my role in enabling this.
Others Come Forward
Following O’Ferrall’s post, several others came forward to share their experiences, with some saying that he would often send them explicit pictures that were unsolicited.
Those who came forward included at least two people who claim that they were underage at the time of their interactions with Knabenbauer. One fan, who goes by Chai, tweeted details, but later set his Twitter account to private.
“ProJared sexually manipulated me via Tumblr when I was 16,” Chai wrote, according to a reuploaded screenshot of his post. “I sent him many actual, real nudes. He knew I was 16.”
Chai also said that he sent lewd pictures to ProJared’s blog “with the explicit instruction ‘do not post this online. I’m 16.’ He posted them anyway.”
Chai noted in his statement that he had another friend who was also underage and “had been manipulated in the same way,” Chai said this individual was planning on coming forward.
Shortly after, a user who goes by Charlie came forward with a story similar to Chai’s. In a Twitter thread, Charlie shared a statement of their experience with Knabenbauer and provided screenshots of their conversations.
In the statement, Charlie writes that they were a “really big fan of ProJared” when they were “around the same age as Chai (15-16).” Charlie said that Knabenbauer asked fan’s on his Tumblr account to send naked pictures, noting that the blog was “in no way age restricted.”
“Jared is a grown man, I’m sure he understands that a significant chunk of his audience are middle and high schoolers,” Charlie wrote. “An open invitation to send him nudes is oddly predatory […] especially when there is a risk for minors (again, a good portion of his following) sending nudes.”
Charlie then goes on to say that they eventually sent Knabenbauer naked pictures.“He messaged me and thanked me and told me I was beautiful,” Charlie wrote. “I don’t think he ever asked for my age.”
Since Chai and Charlie made their statements, others have come forward to talk about the Tumblr blog Knabenbauer created to send and share explicit pictures with his fans.
Rogue Rocket spoke to a Twitter user who goes by Bren, who told us they never interacted with Knabenbauer personally, but described themself as a witness to the blog. Bren said they found Knabenbauer’s blog in group chat for the game “Asagao Academy.”
“I remember that a handful of people in the group chat were into the blog, many were minors,” Bren said. “I would say that him creating the whole blog was incredibly manipulative. His fan base was made up of so many underage fans.”
Bren described how Knabenbauer would refer to his fans who submitted naked pictures as “sinners.”
“Two adults wouldn’t say they’re ‘sinning’ when sharing nudes, but a teenager who hasn’t had the chance to explore their sexuality might have that view,” Bren said. “So to me, all of the talk about sinning and sinners felt like he was well aware that there was a large gap in the levels of sexual experience between him and his fans, and I think he got off to this idea of him, a 30 something year old man, being “naughty” and “sinful” with people half his age.. essentially grooming a whole group of fans.”
“Not to mention the power dynamic between a famous Youtuber and his audience, which is only amplified when much of that audience is underage,” Bren continued. “So when he was asking for nudes on his tumblr, it only made sense that his underage fans would answer that call.”
Bren’s experience was echoed by a person who goes by Asa, who spoke to The Daily Beast about their experience messaging Knabenbauer.
“I was freshly 18, and I had absolutely no romantic or sexual experiences,” Asa said. “He asked if I was over 18, and I said yes, mentioning that my birthday was scarcely a few months prior. He said that he was honored I would want to ‘use’ my newfound legality with him.”
Asa also claimed that it was “barely a secret” that underage people were interacting with Knabenbauer blog, adding, “I know a few of my friends had taken their ages off of their page so that Jared couldn’t verify that they were under 18.”
In response to the allegations, NormalBoots, the creator collective that Knabenbauer is a part of, posted a statement on Twitter, saying that they had been informed of the allegations in an email a month prior.
“On April 4, 2019, an unsolicited e-mail was sent to the NormalBoots business account containing allegations of inappropriate conduct pertaining to Jared Knabenbauer,” the statement said. “Upon receiving the e-mail, NormalBoots Manager, Jacque Khalil took immediate action to alert the appropriate parties, including Mr. Knabenbauer and the NormalBoots legal team, of the allegations. No other members of NormalBoots were made aware of the allegations while the investigation into the allegations was ongoing.”
The statement goes on to say that NormalBoots had planned to terminate their relationship with Knabenbauer before the allegations were made public, but have since “mutually agreed to part ways.”
In a Twitter post, Chai said that he and Charlie sent the email to NormalBoots, and shared a screenshot of the email the two received from them.
Knabenbauer himself has yet to make a statement, but many of his fans and others in the community have started to distance themselves from him. According to SocialBlade, Knabenbauer’s YouTube channel lost more than 100,000 subscribers in the first 24 hours after the allegations came out alone. Since then, he has lost a total of more than 200,000 followers.
Other gamers creators have also been distancing themselves from Knabenbauer as well, like popular creator collective Game Grumps, which has started deleting videos that Knabenbauer appeared in.
The accusations against Knabenbauer represents part of the broader problem of popular YouTubers using their position to prey on underage fans. Just two weeks ago, famous YouTuber Austin Jones was sentenced to ten years in federal prison for soliciting sexually explicit photos from multiple underage fans, some of whom were as young as 14.
Updates: This article was originally posted on May 10, but has been updated to include statements from Bren and Asa, the correct pronouns for Charlie, and updated records of ProJared’s subscriber loss as of May 14.
See what others are saying: (The Daily Beast) (The Verge) (Kotaku)
James Charles, Tati Westbrook, & Jeffree Star End Their Public Fued
- Over the weekend massive beauty YouTubers Tati Westbrook, James Charles, and Jeffree Star all posted their own videos further addressing the fallout since Tati’s original video ending her friendship with James.
- Tati said she regretted the way the situation unfolded after her initial video prompted millions to unsubscribe from James and caused many to accuse him of being a “sexual predator.”
- James released several screenshots to defended himself against a variety of topics, including the Sugar Bear Hair vitamin situation and the allegations against him involving the way he treats straight men.
- Jeffree said he regretted inserting himself into the situation and both he and Tati said they want the public drama to end and will no longer comment on the situation.
- James’s subscriber count has been steadily increasing since his video, with him now back up at 14.8 million.
Tati Says She Never Expected This Reaction
Tati Westbrook, James Charles, and Jeffree Star have all posted videos addressing the massive scandal in the beauty community, which was initially started by Tati’s “Bye Sister” Video, where she ended her friendship with James.
On Thursday, Tati posted a video called “Why I Did it …” where she explained her reactions to the fallout that has happened since she “exposed” James. She said that she did not expect the story to blow up to the degree that it did and expected most of the backlash to be directed towards her.
“I thought that I would be the one that would take the hit,” she said. “I thought I was going against millions and millions of subscribers…If I could give all of the success back and all of the subscribers back, I would.”
She also said that she did not want people to attack James, adding that it is hard for her to see a lot of negativity on the internet targeted towards him.
“I want you guys to know that I don’t hate James Charles,” she said. “I don’t want you guys hating on him. I can’t even go online right now. It’s painful to see someone that you have cared about be dragged.”
James Brings Receipts
Then on Saturday, James posted a 40-minute video titled “No More Lies.”
He started it off by standing by his initial apology video, which received a lot of backlash from viewers. He then went on to address all of the allegations that Tati made against him, using a lot of receipts.
First, he dove into the Sugar Bear Hair controversy and fully explained his decision to do a post for the company. While at the VIP section of Weekend Two at Coachella, James said he was getting bombarded by fans. For his safety, he wanted to be in the Artist section, which is more secure and secluded.
He reached out to fellow beauty influencer Nikita Dragon who connected him with Sugar Bear to see if they had any Artist passes they could offer him in exchange for a sponsored Instagram post. He said he did so, seeing that this was his only option if he wanted to stay at Coachella.
In Tati’s video, she claimed that she did not receive a warning text about the post. Also, she said that James had “nine days” to message her about it, so it appears she thought James and Sugar Bear Hair during the first weekend of the festival.
However, James says all of this went down on weekend two. He posted screenshots of texts he sent before he posted the Sugar Bear Hair Instagram video. He also showed texts that he sent to Tati and her husband after Tati posted on her Instagram that she felt very upset and isolated from the community.
The next major topic that James tackled was boys. In her video, Tati claimed that James used his status as a celebrity to manipulate straight men into behaving sexually in his favor.
“First of all, I am a 19-year-old virgin,” James said. “I just thought I’d put it into the universe that I don’t get a lot of action. You probably guessed that at this point. That being said, I have never, would never, and will never, use my fame, money, or power to manipulate or get any sexual actions from a guy. That is disgusting.”
He then went on to discuss the waiter from Seattle, Sam, whom Tati brought up in her video. Sam also made a video of his own, where he discussed his relationship with James. But according to James, Sam’s story had gaps, so he tried to fill them in.
He said the whole thing unfolded at Tati’s birthday dinner when he was discussing a waiter at the restaurant he thought was cute. While the word “famous” was used, James never said that he could get the guy to like him because he is a “celebrity,” as Tati said.
Rather, James said that his friend group has an inside joke where they call each other “famous,” said he was using the word in that context.
As far as his personal interactions with Sam, James pulled up screenshots of their conversations. In those texts, Sam told James he was bi, despite the fact that Tati said he was straight, and that James always went after straight guys.
James also said when he invited Sam to his hotel room, he told Sam that there was no pressure to do anything, and emphasized that everything that happened between them was consensual.
James continued the story by saying that they kept in touch, but it started to get rocky because he thought Sam was still figuring out his sexuality. But eventually, Sam used his friend’s phone to text James saying that he was gay. But James said that this was not real, and just a ploy to get him to respond.
“Sam texted me saying he was fully gay, but it was a trap to get me on FaceTime,” said James, “so he could illegally record the conversation to include in the video he was planning later on…Later on, he told me he was confirmed bi. This is why, in Sam’s video, he included a screenshot of me telling him I did not think he was fully straight.”
As far as James’ alleged consistent interest in straight men, he admitted that he has slid into the DM’s of straight guys before. However, he said that whenever he learned someone was not interested, he stopped messaging them immediately.
He also spoke about the rumors people were starting about him and how that perpetuated negative stereotypes about gay men. He specifically mentioned Zara Larsson, who tweeted that James had messaged her boyfriend multiple times while knowing he was straight.
James showed that he had only messaged him once and also said he had no idea he was messaging someone with a girlfriend. Larson did end up deleting her tweet, but James said it had close to half a million likes before she did so.
He then showed a tweet Zara posted about her boyfriend before she met him and asked a question.
“Why is it okay for Zara Larsson, a woman with a public platform to tweet these photos of a shirtless man and say ‘Who are you where do you live how old are you why are you so fine how do you like your eggs cooked in the morning?’ But for me as a gay man, to DM the same person in private with a simple compliment, is predatory? he asked.
The last big point he talked about was Jeffree Star. He said that he and Jeffree had been trying to figure out a time to talk before Tati’s “Bye Sister” video dropped. They never scheduled a time to chat and on the day the video made waves throughout the internet, James said he got a harsh text from Jeffree. The text references Sam, Grayson Dolan, Jeffree’s brother Zack, and a boy named Cameron who James claims to not know.
“Grayson is going on camera shortly to finally tell the world how you tried to molest him and touch him in his sleep…And made him uncomfortable for months you sick motherfucker,” the text reads. “Next, Zack will be going on camera to tell how twisted and sick you were, trying to get him to like you and then make him feel bad when he didn’t wanna send you photos back. Then Sam from Seattle will be joining me and Cameron, to talk about you trapping him in the hotel room. You need to be locked in prison for a very long time. You need the Internet taken away from you, you are a danger to society.”
James then addressed Jeffree’s tweets that he later deleted. One was aimed at James’ brother Ian.
James clarified that Ian went home to New York for a number of reasons. In addition, to having his wisdom teeth removed and a few gigs in the city, he was struggling with depression and wanted to be with his parents.
Jeffree also tweeted that James was not allowed in his home, and James said he was totally unaware of this. He also said that since they last saw each other in February, Jeffree had reached out to him saying that he missed him.
James then closed his video by saying that Tati, Jeffree, and Sam were all working on reaching out to him to address the matter privately.
Jeffree Bows Out
The saga did not end there, because, on Sunday, Jeffree posted a video called “Never Doing This Again.” In its 14-minute run, he says that he does not want to be involved in the drama anymore and confesses that he wishes he had never inserted himself into this situation in the first place.
“This has to stop,” he said. “I’m embarrassed by my own actions.”
He addressed James directly and said he wishes he never sent those texts.
“There were a lot of rumors, and sadly I let that get to me,” said Jeffree. “So James, I want to let you know that I should have never sent you those messages.”
Jeffree also apologized to Ian about his tweet.
“So Ian, I just want to let you know I am so sorry for ever sending that tweet. If I could take it back I would.”
He closed by saying that he does not want to talk about the situation anymore and said that everyone involved needs to take time to heal.
On Sunday, Tati sent a tweet saying that she has been communicating with James through an intermediary. She also said she no longer wishes to address this situation publicly.
The “Bye Sister” video has also been removed from Tati’s channel.
As far as subscribers go, Tati still has over ten million, though her count is no longer experiencing a steep incline. In fact, her number is gently trickling downward.
James, who lost three million subscribers as a result of this fallout, is starting to gain them back. He now has 14.8 million subscribers. He is inching his way back up to being the most popular beauty vlogger on YouTube. He just has to edge out Jeffree, who has 14.9 million subscribers.
See what others are saying: (Fox News) (Cosmopolitan) (The Verge)
James Charles Loses Millions of Subscribers After Tati Westbrook Ends Friendship
- YouTuber James Charles has lost almost 3 million subscribers since fellow YouTuber Tati Westbrook posted a video claiming he uses his celebrity status to try to sexually manipulate straight men.
- James made a video apologizing to both Tati and his fans in response.
- Several YouTubers have spoken out, including PewDiePie, Shane Dawson, and Jeffree Star.
- A waiter who Tati says James tried to manipulate also posted a video sharing his story.
Feud Between James and Tati Begins
James Charles has lost millions of subscribers following Tati Westbrook’s “Bye Sister” video, where she explains why she is ending her longtime friendship with James.
The feud between James and Tati publically began on April 22, when James did a sponsored post for Sugar Bear Hair vitamins, a product that is a rival competitor to Tati’s Halo Beauty.
After James did this, Tati posted a tear-filled Instagram story where she did not mention any specific names, but said she felt alone in the industry.
“I’m just so upset,” she said. “I feel really used and that’s the bad part of Hollywood. Welcome to show business. Everybody says what they need to say and uses who they need to use to get ahead. And I’ve had about enough.”
James apologized in an Instagram story, saying that he did not make any money from the post, and that he still takes Halo Beauty daily.
“I want to publically apologize to my close friend Tati,” he wrote. “She has been like a mother to me since my first days in this industry…I did not think about the competition, which was a major oversight. I’ve supported Tati both online and off like she has done for me and I am devastated that I hurt someone that I truly love and have endless respect for.”
A fellow beauty YouTuber, Gabriel Zamora, talked about the drama one of his videos, where he said the situation had been overblown.
“And it’s not even just her crying over vitamins,” he said. “It’s the fact that all these channels are continuously making videos on it, talking about it, making this a thing, like really? Over vitamins?”
Tati’s “Bye Sister” Video
All of this build-up led to Friday, when Tati posted a 43-minute-long video called “Bye Sister.” In the video, she declared her years-long friendship with James over. While she did address the Sugar Bear Hair post, she said that the core of the problem was much deeper than that. She claimed that fame had dramatically changed James.
“Obviously so many of you guys understand this is more than just a sponsored post. It has layers,” she said. There is so much going on with James Charles right now that I do not support. That I do not agree with. Fame, power, and a fat bank account will change almost anyone.“
She then began to directly address James and told him that their relationship was over.
“I don’t think there’s any getting through to you.,” she said. “I don’t want to be friends with you. I don’t want to be associated with you. And I need to say that very publically so that this chapter can be closed.”
Tati went into detail about the help she and her husband offered James when he first moved to Los Angeles, and how they stepped in as parental figures early on in his career. However, she feels that he is not grateful for what they have done for him and has disrespected her and several others in the community. She went on to say she found this behavior especially concerning because of his young audience.
One of the biggest revelations that came out of Tati’s video was the way James Charles uses his fame to talk to men. She said specifically that he uses it as a catalyst to get straight men interested in him.
“Oh my god, you tried to trick a straight man into thinking he’s gay yet again, and somehow, you’re the victim,” she said. “You know, it’s really disgusting to manipulate someone’s sexuality, especially when they are still emerging into adulthood and don’t have everything quite figured out.”
“You are using your fame, your power, your money, to play with people’s emotions. You are threatening to ruin them. You are threatening to embarrass them. And you are doing that to have them behave sexually in your favor even if they are straight. And you know what, that’s not okay.”
She then gave an example and claimed James made comments about the waiter at a restaurant during her birthday dinner.
“You were talking in detail about the things you wanted to do to the waiter.,” Tati explained. “And when I said, ‘James, he’s straight.’ You’re response was. ‘Doesn’t matter, I’m a celebrity.’ So freaking gross.”
She closed the video by saying that ending her friendship with James was painful, but that she has said her peace on the situation and wants to move forward.
James’ Apology Video
Later that day, James posted an eight-minute-long apology video.
“To Tati and James Westbrook, I’m sorry,” he began. “For everything that is going on, for everything that I’ve put you through over the past few weeks.”
He said that Tati, along with her family, gave him support and love starting at an early point in his career. He then told his fans that he was sorry to have disappointed them.
He addressed the vitamin situation, saying he feels bad for having been disloyal to Tati. Then he moved on to discuss the allegations she brought up about the way he interacts with men.
“I’ve learned the hard way about ways that I interact with the boy’s I’m interested in, and also ones that I should or should not be talking to,” he said. “This is a conversation I know a lot of people are uncomfortable with and something I should have been more careful with bringing it to the public eye.”
He also thanked his mother for being a strong figure for him but said he did not want her to defend him, as he feels he should handle this situation on his own.
Subscriber Counts Shift
Since Friday, the fallout for James has been pretty severe. Before Tati’s video, James had around 16.5 million subscribers. As of Monday afternoon, his number had dropped to 13.7 million.
People dropping from James’ circle include big names like the Kardashian and Jenner family, Miley Cyrus, Ariana Grande, and Shane Dawson, who have all unfollowed him on social media.
Tati, on the other hand, has seen the opposite effect. Before her post, she had about 5.9 million subscribers. By Monday afternoon, she had over 9 million.
Boys Speak Out
Since this massive falling out, which is considered to be the largest subscriber loss in YouTube history, many people have spoken out about James
A boy named Gage said he interacted with James at a point where he was dealing with confusion about his sexuality. He says he told James he was straight, but James still put pressure on him.
“As you all know, this person, 99.9, maybe even 100 percent of the time, goes after heterosexual men,” he said.
Another prominent testimony comes from a boy named Sam Cooke, who appears to be the waiter that mentioned in Tati’s video.
In a recent video, he told the story of his interactions with James starting the night of the dinner party. Cooke said that James tried to get his number several times from other staff members, but it didn’t happen. Cooke then messaged him on Instagram, saying he was bi-curious at the time, but had never done anything with a man before.
James allegedly invited Cooke to his hotel room on his last night in Seattle, where they made out. He says the two stayed in touch after James left.
James eventually invited Cooke to visit him in Los Angeles, saying that he would cover the expenses. However, by this time, Cooke says he felt confident that he was straight, so he declined, which he says upset James.
“His response to me was that he did not think that I was straight,” Cooke said. “He told me that I’m not straight.”
He then showed a message from James, where the YouTuber told him, “You’re not straight no matter how many times you tell yourself.”
Cooke claimes they stopped talking after this, until James invited him to LA again, still trying to tell him he was not straight.
“He still went on to say he thought I was bisexual or gay and attracted to him when I told him different,” Cooke said. “And that kind of went on until we ended it at, I’m legitimately not feeling anything, please stop talking to me.”
Cooke also mentioned Gage, who he says James was talking to at the same time.
“I didn’t want anything to do with him after that,” he said. “After finding out that he was kind of playing two guys, two straight guys, at the same time.”
He then played FaceTime footage showing James admitting to talking to both guys at once, and playing it off like no big deal. When Cooke asked if he had been speaking to Gage, James responded by saying, “Yeah, we were. It’s like, why do you care?”
Cooke ended the video saying he did not post it for fame, but that he felt he needed to share his side of the story.
The story also elicited attention from prominent YouTubers. PewDiePie made a video called “James Charles is canceled.” In it, he declared James had “the biggest oopsie” of 2019 and goes over Tati’s video.
However, he ended up taking a stance more sympathetic to James than most. He said he did not understand why this event specifically would cause James to lose so many subscribers.
“He’s facing the biggest sub drop that has ever happened on YouTube,” he said. “Look at all the controversies that have happened on YouTube. Is this really that comparable?”
He also added that while he does not feel that he fully has a grasp on the whole situation, he did not see why Tati could not have handled the situation privately. PewDiePie brought up the fact that James was allegedly reaching out to drama channels, then showed a screenshot of what he reportedly said to them.
“Until Tati feels comfortable and ready to talk to me in private, I don’t feel comfortable commenting about her publically,” the message read.
Because James allegedly said this, PewDiePie claimed he questioned Tati’s motives.
“I’m not here to defend James Charles, I just don’t think what Tati did is that justified,” he said.
Other YouTubers Side With Tati
Other YouTubers had different takes. Jeffree Star has been tweeting to congratulate Tati on her subscriber count climb since the video was posted.
He also sent a tweet calling James “dangerous.” In another, he addressed James’ brother to say that James was a predator. Both of those tweets have been deleted.
Shane Dawson also spoke out, though he did not take as strong a stance as Jeffree. Dawson, who has recently appeared to be close with Tati, sent out a tweet praising her Halo Beauty line.
YouTubers Under Fire For Firing Walmart Employees in Prank Video
- YouTubers Lauren Love and her partner Joel Ashley are facing backlash for a recent prank video where Love dressed as a Walmart executive and told employees they were fired.
- The prank brought one employee to tears and she later spoke to a local news outlet saying the incident made her feel “powerless.”
- Walmart has also released a statement calling the prank “offensive.”
A YouTube couple is facing backlash for a video posted last month were one of the vloggers dresses up as a Walmart executive and pretends to fire store employees. YouTuber Lauren Love and her partner Joel Ashley have a channel with 1.3 million subscribers called “Joel and Lauren TV” where they post videos with titles like; “CAUGHT CHEATING PRANK ON GIRLFRIEND” and “SURPRISING MY BOYFRIEND WITH FAKE GUCCI PRANK.”
In a video posted last month called “CEO Firing People Prank,” Love goes into a Walmart in Richmond, Texas dressed in business attire. “So, I’m going to be going up to Walmart employees and basically observing them and then I’m going to be, like, ‘You’re fired. Let me see your badge,’” Love explains.
At one point Love fires an employee for being “in the wrong area.” He then takes off his vest and goes to hand it to her before she starts laughing and says “its just a prank.”
In another moment, Love fires a woman who responds by telling her she has been working for the store for six years. “I’ve been doing my job very well. I’ve been regarded as employee of the month,” the woman says as she fights back tears.
“I’m sorry, don’t cry. You’re okay. I’m sorry. You’re not fired. You’re doing a really good job,” Love says.
Some employees laugh off the prank once Love reveals that it is part of a YouTube video, but others, like the woman who cried, were far more impacted.
The woman who was brought to tears in the video was later identified as Maria Leones. Leones spoke to local news about the prank saying that it was especially not funny because her husband is recovering from triple bypass surgery and he uses her insurance.
“Really, I was really so crushed, I felt so little, I felt so powerless,” Leones told Click 2 Houston. Love told ABC 13 that she “felt so bad” and offered Leones fifty dollars, but Leones said that she has never received any money, nor does she want any.
A Walmart spokesperson has since commented on the situation calling the prank “offensive.” The company also said it was banning Love and her cameraperson from their stores.
“We’ve taken actions on behalf of our associates, including asking YouTube to remove the video and calling their attention to the bullying nature of this hoax,” the spokesperson said. “Our associates work hard every day to serve our customers. They do a fantastic job, deserve better than being subjected to such disrespect, and will continue to have our full support.”
Viewers have been spamming Love’s Instagram posts with comments about the firing prank and calling on brands to end their relationships with her. Neither Love or her partner have commented on the situation, but the video has been removed. Love has also disabled comments on some of her recent Instagram posts.