The heartwarming story of Iowa State fan Carson King’s request for beer money and an ensuing million-dollar children’s hospital donation took a turn Tuesday.
King apologized Tuesday night after the Des Moines Register found what it said were “two racist jokes” posted to King’s Twitter account in 2012. King, 24, was 16 at the time of those two tweets.
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.
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.
King, who has helped raise over $1 million for the University of Iowa’s Stead Children’s Hospital, held a press conference to make his apology on Tuesday night ahead of the newspaper’s profile, which was published at approximately 9:30 p.m. CT. King said the decision to publicly apologize was his and that he was informed of the old tweets in an interview with the paper
The Des Moines Register has been nothing but kind in all of their coverage, and I appreciate the reporter pointing out the post to me. I want everyone to understand that this was my decision to publicly address the posts and apologize. I believe that is the right thing to do.— Carson King (@CarsonKing2) September 25, 2019
King became a viral star after he held up a sign requesting money for Busch Light with the name of his Venmo account during ESPN’s “College GameDay” on Sept. 14 at Iowa State. He received thousands of dollars and, once he received over $6,000, decided to donate the money to the children’s hospital.
His gesture got him publicity and thanks from both Busch and Venmo, who said they would match the donation from King. As people kept sending money to King’s Venmo account, the total set to go to the Stead Children’s Hospital topped $1 million with the matching donations.
After King’s apology Tuesday night, Anheuser-Busch said it would honor its matching donation but would no longer associate itself with King. It had even put his face on some special edition cans of Busch Light.
“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.”
How and why did the Register find the tweets?
The Register posted a statement to Facebook late Tuesday night that it found the tweets during a “routine background check on King that included a review of publicly visible social media posts, a standard part of a reporter’s work on a profile.”
The paper added that it deliberated on whether it should include a reference to the tweets in the profile of King.
“Eventually, Register editors decided we would include the information, but at the bottom of the story,” the paper’s statement said. “We thought we should be transparent about what we had found, but not highlight it at the top of the story or as a separate story. It was planned as a few paragraphs toward the bottom of the profile.”
“But the decision about how to use this information was pre-empted when King held a news conference to discuss his tweets and express his remorse. The news conference was covered by local television stations, which first reported on the racist posts and King’s remorse. After those stories aired, Busch Light’s parent company announced it would honor its pledge to the children’s hospital but would sever future ties with King.”
Register reporter investigated for old tweets
After the Register’s revelation of King’s old tweets became public, reporter Aaron Calvin’s Twitter feed became a point of scrutiny. And now he’s under investigation by the Register for offensive and racist tweets from years ago.
Between 2010 and 2013, Calvin published tweets that used a racist slur for black people, made light of abusing women, used the word “gay” as a pejorative, and mocked the legalization of same-sex marriage by saying he was “totally going to marry a horse.” The Register’s statement on Twitter was soon flooded with screen shots of the reporter’s offensive comments.
Calvin tweeted an apology for the old tweets overnight and subsequently protected his Twitter account. The paper didn’t comment any further to the Post about the investigation into Calvin’s tweets other than noting that it had publicly stated the reporter was under investigation for his old tweets.
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Nick Bromberg is a writer for Yahoo Sports
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