More than five months after the event organizer was released from prison for wire fraud charges, he issued an apology to everyone he failed with the botched 2017 music event.
"I need to apologize. And that is the first and the last thing that needs to be done," McFarland told Good Morning America Nov. 4 during his first interview since being released from prison. "I let people down. I let down employees. I let down their families. I let down investors. So, I need to apologize. I'm wrong and it's bad."
He admitted, "I messed up. And I was so driven by this desperate desire to prove people right … I think I was just so insecure that I thought the only way to prove myself to them was to succeed. That led me down just this terrible path of bad decisions."
In April 2017, McFarland and rapper Ja Rule co-organized the Fyre Festival, which was originally billed as a luxurious music event in the Bahamas that was promoted by several celebrities, including Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid. While the occasion drew in thousands of concertgoers from all over the world, the festival quickly turned into a nightmare.
At the time, attendees called the festival a "disaster," citing "mass chaos," including robberies, fights over food at the "refugee camp" event site and difficulties getting flights back to the United States.
Three months later, McFarland was arrested and charged over his alleged "connection with a scheme to defraud investors," with his company Fyre Media LLC, prosecutors said at the time, and "a related entity responsible for organizing a music festival." (Ja Rule was never charged in connection with the festival and the rapper was later dismissed as a defendant in a civil complaint filed by attendees.)
In March 2018, the investor pled guilty to two counts of wire fraud and was sentenced to six years in prison. Additionally, he was ordered to pay investors, vendors and concertgoers $26 million in restitution.
After serving four years, McFarland was released into a halfway house in the New York City area on May 19, 2022.
"At this time, Billy is relieved to be out of prison and looking forward to working with a team of people we are putting together to formulate plans to begin paying the restitution back to those affected," his lawyer, Jason Russo, confirmed in a statement to E! News at the time. "Billy's primary concern and focus at this time is making restitution and fulfilling the promises made."
For the latest breaking news updates, click here to download the E! News App