The viral YouTuber and darling of the alt-right, Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg, reneged on his $50,000 pledge to the Anti-Defamation League, originally intended to make up for past allegations of anti-Semitism.
Kjellberg — whose channel, with 101 million subscribers, is the second most followed on YouTube — had previously come under fire for the praise that he’s garnered from white nationalists and the far-right. The donation to the ADL, a Jewish organization dedicated to countering anti-Semitism, was originally was meant to clear the air.
But his fans, decrying a conspiracy he’d been pressured to make the donation and that ADL could somehow take Kjellberg off the air, convinced the YouTuber to do an about-face. He won’t be giving any cash to the organization.
“I made the mistake of picking a charity that I was advised to, instead of picking a charity that I’m personally passionate about,” Kjellberg said in the video. “Which is 100% my fault.”
The ADL, for its part, said it had learned about the donation at the same time as everyone else, and gave no additional comment when asked about the rescinded donation.
“ADL learned about the potential donation from Felix Kjellberg when everyone else did: when he made the announcement on his channel earlier this week,” the organization said in a statement. “We have not received any communication from him beyond that.”
Kjellberg’s come under fire for making anti-Semitic jokes on his channel. In 2017, he paid two men to hold up signs that read “Death to All Jews” — and the Anti-Defamation League criticized him for it.
The shooter in Christchurch, New Zealand, live-streamed his killing of 51 people, and muttered “Subscribe to PewDiePie” as he carried out the massacre.
“I saw it as an opportunity to put an end to these alt-right claims that have been thrown against me,” Kjellberg said in the video announcing that he wouldn’t be making the donation. “But I also didn’t know a lot of things that surfaced throughout this whole thing about the charity that doesn’t fit at all.”
To his fans, the donation was evidence of some sort of grand conspiracy. Some even claimed that the Anti-Defamation League was “defaming” PewDiePie, according to Kotaku.
Kjellberg says he’ll still make the $50,000 donation he’d promised to make — it just won’t go to the ADL. He hasn’t yet announced which charity he’ll be giving to.
Cover: Comedian PewDiePie signs his new book "This Book Loves You" at Barnes & Noble at The Grove on October 30, 2015 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Vincent Sandoval/WireImage)