YouTube king Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg announced that he would be making a $50,000 donation to the Anti-Defamation League as part of his 100 million subscriber celebration - but he later rescinded his contribution, and the net was outraged.
However, the outrage wasn’t collectively directed at his stance on the ADL, itself: rather, many users were critical of Kjellberg’s apparel he wore during his video explaining his decision to rescind his donation.
In the video, PewDiePie wore a black turtleneck sweater with a cross on the neck - a symbol that some claimed was an “iron cross,” sparking debate across the social media sphere.
PewDiePie addressed the outrage during an episode of “Pew News” on September 19, where he clarified that the symbol was a Georgian Bolnisi Cross, pointing out the Georgian script next to the controversial image.
“That cross - people were very sure that was a Nazi cross,” he began. “People started attacking me because of it. Nevermind the fact that it’s Georgian characters literally right next to it. Nevermind the fact that I’ve worn it many times before on my channel. The only time I see people comment about it have been Georgian people, with excitement.”
(Timestamp: 2:40 for mobile viewers)
The YouTuber went on to claim that he wasn’t even aware of the possible Nazi imagery surrounding the iron cross, explaining that he didn’t put much thought into what he wears regarding such messages.
“I don’t think about what I wear that much,” he continued. “I didn’t even know about the iron cross - I think I heard something about it, but I don’t think about these things. I don’t care about these tiny Nazi references.”
Although Kjellberg rescinded his donation to the ADL, the YouTube king stated that he is still planning to donate the $50k amount to another charity, and is open to further suggestions from his fanbase.
The controversy around PewDiePie’s donation duds follows his milestone of 101 million subscribers, as well as his quiet wedding to fiance Marzia Bisongin - a major shift from an otherwise hugely successful streak for the YouTuber.