Brett Favre has apologized after claiming that he was tricked into recording an anti-Semitic video by a group of white supremacists.
In a lengthy note posted on his Facebook page, the former Green Bay Packers quarterback, 49, wrote that on Nov. 22, he “received a request to record a shout-out supporting what appeared to be a U.S. veterans organization for Cameo, a company that enables consumers to book personalized video greetings from celebrities.”
Favre, who charges $500 per personalized video, wrote that he had “previously fulfilled more than 50 of these requests without incident,” and assumed “that the request,” which included references to patriotism and an American research ship, “stemmed from my interest in veteran affairs.”
However, Favre was instead contacted by the “GDL” group, which stands for “Goyim Defense League,” and is allegedly run by two white supremacist YouTubers, according to BuzzFeed News.
In the message Favre recorded on behalf of the group, the former athlete calls the group “patriots” and made a variety of veiled anti-Semitic comments, the outlet reported.
Using a slur which refers to the yarmulkes, in the video, Favre encouraged the listeners not to “let the small get you down,” and also referenced the USS Liberty, an American ship shot down during the Six-Day War by Israeli forces who mistook it for an Egyptian ship, according to the Washington Post. The incident has been known to be used to incite anti-Semitic sentiments, according to the Post.
Continuing his apology, Favre wrote that he learned of the truth “a few days later,” after members of the group had “reposted my video with comments implying that I endorsed their mission.”
“Nothing could be further from the truth,” he added. “I am therefore donating my $500 Cameo fee to Charities supporting their fight against hate and bigotry.”
“Like most Americans, I am sickened by what these groups stand for and concerned about their role in fueling today’s negative political climate. The Cameo request from this organization is a prime example of how these groups are misusing social media to promote their agenda,” he added. “I thought I was creating a message to support the brave men and women of our military forces. Had I understood the source of the request, I would never have fulfilled it. All of us – myself included – need to be vigilant to protect this country from these dangers.”
Favre is still accepting video requests, according to his Cameo page, and is currently showcased on the website’s homepage as a featured talent.
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During a live-streamed video last week, one of the founders of the group explained that they deliberately chose “cryptic enough” messages, so “they would say it,” BuzzFeed News said.
In a statement to the Washington Post, Cameo called the actions “a blatant misuse of the Cameo platform and a violation of Cameo’s terms of service.”
“This is the first incident of its kind in more than 93,000 Cameos and a gross misrepresentation of the talent’s political beliefs. Cameo immediately removed the videos from the website, requested YouTube to remove the content and created new filters to prevent this from happening in the future. The user has been banned from purchasing Cameos,” the statement continued.
“Somebody went onto our site and sent a message that turned out to be very benign looking, but was in actuality coded alt-right language and they got Brett Favre, Soulja Boy and Andy Dick, three of our talent, to make videos that they thought were supporting U.S. veterans, but in actuality were coded alt-right messages that could be interpreted as anti-Semitic,” Steven Galanis, co-founder and CEO of Cameo tells PEOPLE.
Explaining how Cameo works, Galanis shared that the company doesn’t vet any of the requests, but simply provides “the technology that allows the talent to get the request.”
“They can read the request, accept it or decline it, depending on if it’s something they feel comfortable doing,” he continues, adding that in this case, all three of the celebrities “didn’t understand the context of what they were saying until the videos ended up on YouTube and hate sites like 4chan, where they went mini-viral.”
Although there’s only so much the company can do to prevent individuals from abusing the service, in the last 48 hours Cameo has created a new internal flagging system, that looks for known acronyms for hate groups and different hate words.
“We’ve done over 93,000 of these videos and this is the first time we’ve ever had to pull any,” he continued, adding that the company is dedicated to doing everything they can to prevent something like this happening in the future.
As soon as Cameo was contacted by Favre about the video message, the company immediately removed the video from their website and requested that YouTube remove the video.