News and Commentary

Man Who Raised Money For A Children’s Hospital Apologizes For Offensive Tweets At Age 16
An information board at the Ljubljana Joze Pucnik Airport displays cancelled flights of Slovenian flag carrier Adria Airways in Brnik, Slovenia, on September 24, 2019.
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It seems that the commissars of cancel culture have run out of comedians to embarrass by surfacing old tweets and are now moving on to men who raised over $1 million for a children’s hospital.

Earlier this month, Iowa resident Carson King became a media sensation when “ESPN College GameDay” highlighted him holding a sign that read, “Busch Light supply need replenished. Venmo Carson-King-25.” When his sign went viral, donors poured in all over the country to contribute to the fund. After raising over $1.14 million, King decided to donate the money University of Iowa Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Unfortunately, what began as a positive story quickly turned into an ugly one when a reporter with the Des Moines Register dug into King’s Twitter history to find offensive comments he made eight years ago when he was just 16.

“A routine background check of King’s social media revealed two racist jokes, one comparing black mothers to gorillas and another making light of black people killed in the holocaust. The joke tweets date back to 2012, when King was a 16-year-old high school student,” wrote Aaron Calvin of the Des Moines Register. “When asked about the tweets, King was remorseful and thanked the Register for pointing them out, saying they made him ‘sick.’ He has since deleted them.”

Though the tweet has not been made public, King has now apologized, calling his comments “hurtful” and “embarrassing.” His full statement:

It was just 10 days ago that I was a guy in the crowd holding a sign looking for beer money on ESPN Game Day.

Since then – so much has happened. Especially when I announced all of the money would be donated to the Stead Family Children’s Hospital in Iowa City.

Thousands of people have donated and today the account is at 1.14 million dollars. Much of this has happened thanks to social media – it has the power to bring people together for a common good.

It also can make your life very public.

And that is why I wanted to share with you that eight years ago – when I was a sophomore in high school, I made some social media posts with my friends that quoted and referenced the show Tosh.0.

One of those posts was brought to my attention by a member of the media today. I had no recollection of it. In re-reading it today – eight years later – I see it was an attempt at humor that was offensive and hurtful.

I am so embarrassed and stunned to reflect on what I thought was funny when I was 16 years old. I want to sincerely apologize.

Thankfully, high school kids grow up and hopefully become responsible and caring adults. I think my feelings are better summed up by a post from just 3 years ago:

“Until we as a people learn that racism and hate are learned behaviors, we won’t get rid of it. Tolerance towards others is the first step.” — July 8, 2016

I am sharing this information tonight because I feel a responsibility to all of the people who have donated money.

I cannot go back and change what I posted when I was a 16-year-old. I can apologize and work to improve every day and make a meaningful difference in people’s lives.

And, I am so very thankful for the generosity of the thousands of people who have donated to our fundraising push for the Stead Family Children’s Hospital.

Following King’s apology, the beer empire Anheuser-Busch announced that it will be cutting all ties with him, saying his tweets do not align with their values.

“Carson King had multiple social media posts that do not align with our values as a brand or as a company and we will have no further association with him. We are honoring our commitment by donating more than $350,000 to the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics,” the company said in a statement to KCCI.