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PewDiePie apologizes to viewers after briefly planning to donate to the Anti-Defamation League

September 12, 2019
Matt Sayles/AP

After announcing plans to donate to an anti-hate group in order to "move past" a series of controversies, PewDiePie is already backtracking.

The wildly popular YouTube star, whose real name is Felix Kjellberg, announced this week he would make a $50,000 donation to the Anti-Defamation League, a Jewish organization that fights against anti-Semitism and other forms of hate. Kjellberg, the most popular person on YouTube, has come under fire in recent years for anti-Semitic content in his videos, including when he paid a man to hold up a sign reading "Death to all Jews." He also apologized in 2017 after shouting the N-word while playing a video game. Earlier this year, his name was evoked by the Christchurch shooter, something Kjellberg said "sickened" him.

But Kjellberg's plans to donate to the Anti-Defamation League sparked backlash among his fans, who objected to the organization's past condemnation of material in his videos, which Kjellberg has argued were just jokes taken out of context. Some even conjured up baseless conspiracy theories that Kjellberg had been blackmailed, although in a subsequent statement, Kjellberg explained he thought the donation was "important" because "I wanted to show publicly that I can move past it and move on."

Despite that, Kjellberg is now calling this off, The Verge reports, in a video Thursday saying he made a "mistake" by not selecting a charity he is "personally passionate about" while saying he did not know "a lot of things" about the Anti-Defamation League until fans pointed them out. He also said he has "felt a responsibility" to "do something" after the Christchurch shooting but that "this was not the right way to go about it."

"I'm sorry for messing this up," Kjellberg added. He says he still plans to donate the $50,000 to a different charity that has not been announced. Brendan Morrow