Elden Ring won game of the year at the Game Awards last night, and a teen followed its developers on stage as they gathered to accept it. Director Hidetaka Miyazaki gave a little speech, the music swelled, and then the kid pushed to the microphone. “Hey, Matan,” he said. “I think I want to nominate this award to my reformed Orthodox Rabbi, Bill Clinton. Thank you everybody.”
Miyazaki looked on, confused. The camera pulled back and security rushed in to take the kid off stage. Later, Game Awards host and organizer Geoff Keighley told the world the kid had been arrested. “The individual who interrupted our Game of the Year moment has been arrested,” he said on Twitter.
The young stage crasher is 15-year-old Matan Even. A Twitter account associated with Even posted a clip of the Game Awards disruption at 5:25 AM with the message, “today there is a lot of talk, and speculation. More information will be released on all fronts sooner than later.” Motherboard DMed the account, who told us that he was Even and that he was 15 years old.
It was a shocking moment at the typically tame Game Awards, and many wondered if the show had just played unwitting host to a public display of antisemitism. As many noted online, Even appeared to be wearing Yeezys, the shoes made by Ye, who has gone on several antisemitic rants recently. Even told Motherboard he’d purchased the shoes shortly before attending the event.
Even’s online history paints the picture of a very young person with a penchant for stunts becoming wrapped up in the right-wing online media ecosystem and seemingly encouraged by it. He has appeared on Infowars, which praised him as a conservative star and egged on his antics, and he has said that he is a longtime fan of the show and its hosts, although he denied this in a chat to Motherboard.
Even first gained notoriety in 2019 when he flashed a pro-Hong Kong T-Shirt at a Los Angeles Clippers game. At the time, there were daily protests against Beijing in Hong Kong. The NBA saw China as a growth market and navigated a number of controversies related to the crackdown in Hong Kong. At the height of those tensions, Even appeared on the fan cam at a Clippers game, holding up a T-Shirt that said, “Fight for freedom stand with Hong Kong.” Also in 2019, he appeared at BlizzCon and yelled “Free Hong Kong” during a World of Warcraft panel. Blizzard had, earlier that year, caused an international incident when it banned a Hearthstone player during a tournament after he declared his support for Hong Kong.
The Clippers moment propelled Even into momentary viral fame. Groups like the Students for a Free Tibet brought him on to talk about the plight of Hong Kong. The incident was featured in an article in Time Magazine. But the far right also glommed on to the Hong Kong protests and the NBA’s response, painting it as liberal hypocrisy and China-friendly censorship. Owen Shroyer at Infowars had Even on, not once, but twice.
In a 2019 Infowars appearance, Even tells Shroyer that he is 12 years old. Shroyer describes the shockingly young-looking Even’s Clippers stunt as “trolling and free speech activism all rolled into one.” Even—sitting in front of a background of Star Wars posters and a sign that says, “Fight for Freedom”—says he’s glad then-President Donald Trump sanctioned China over the protests, and tells Shroyer, “Thank you just for putting me on the show, I’ve been a big fan of you for a while,” adding that the host is his “favorite person on Infowars.”
In the 2019 Infowars appearance, Even said he came to know Shroyer through another YouTube channel that regularly features right-wing content from Shroyer, Savage Facts. Shroyer picks this up and says Even is a prime example of a young person who discovers Infowars online and then spreads its ideology.
“Matan is an example of someone who finds Infowars going through the internet to find information, a story, a video, and finds Infowars, and that’s what they’re trying to stop,” Shroyer says. “They don’t want the youth getting the message.”
“A lot of people my age don’t form their own opinion,” Even tells Shroyer. “Some of them will just go with what their parents or favorite celebrity says, or what the news says, even if it is biased, and if it’s not telling the truth, and that’s not really good in today’s generation, especially people my age who are so gullible and they’re just falling for all this fake shit.”
In a 2020 appearance on Infowars, when Even was 13, Shroyer called him “one of the young stars of the conservative movement.”
Notably, in these appearances, he does not have the thick accent he spoke with at The Game Awards.
Even continued to post about Hong Kong on Twitter and YouTube through 2021. In March, he posted videos related to the wave of anti-Asian hate crimes in America and then nothing until June, 2021. “Hello everybody, I haven’t posted in a while and I just wanted to let you guys know why,” he said on Twitter. “The reason I have not posted, is due there not being much to post about. Currently no protests or news is happening in Hong Kong. I may start posting again, and I’ll update you guys soon.”
At The Game Awards, a further evolved Even appeared on stage. He was visibly older, with a deeper voice, and his message had also changed along with the current focus of the right-wing media ecosystem. He wore Yeezys and made a statement connecting Judaism and Bill Clinton, feeding into current antisemitic MAGA tropes.
In a Twitter DM with Motherboard, Even gave trolling answers to questions about the meaning behind his comment about Bill Clinton being his rabbi, and denied ever being a fan of Infowars. “I never was an avid viewer nor am I now,” he said. He called Clinton “a true inspiration, especially in the gaming space,” and said he had “a lot of good teachings” and that he couldn’t think of a better way to address him.
It’s difficult to square Even’s comments with his long, detailed answers to Shroyer about being a longtime fan of Infowars and Shroyer especially, and about Infowars being a truthful alternative to the mainstream media.
The Game Awards declined to comment on the record when reached.