Well, Pete Evans is right at least about 2020 being bizarre.
In a strange video posted to his Facebook this afternoon, he filmed himself cuddling his horses while he addressed the backlash he’s received after sharing a cartoon with a Nazi symbol on Instagram.
It comes after it was revealed the celebrity chef turned conspiracy theorist will not appear on the upcoming season of I’m a Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here! after a savage social media backlash.
Evans didn’t address the supposed appearance in his video, and denied knowing what the symbol in question meant – despite a comment on his original post indicating he did.
“Just when you thought 2020 couldn’t get any more bizarre, the mainstream media have come out and labelled me a racist and a neo-Nazi,” he said.
“The fact that I actually had to Google what neo-Nazi meant is pretty telling. So I just want to tell you this once and one time only, it is completely untrue, unfactual and a load of garbage.”
Evans said he could say more about it but wouldn’t.
“Anybody that knows me knows that I stand for long-term, sustainable health for all humanity,” he said.
“I don’t think there’s anything else I need to say except peace, love to you all.”
Earlier Network 10 denied it paid Evans $200,000 to star on the reality show after he was “dumped” because of his recent social media posts.
Speculation erupted yesterday that Evans would be part of the reality show’s cast when it begins filming next week, but that’s no longer the case.
“Network 10 can confirm that Pete Evans will not be appearing on this season of I’m A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!” a Ten spokesperson told news.com.au.
Ten did not comment when asked whether Evans had been considered as a contestant but former Studio 10 executive producer Rob McKnight claims Evans was “fired” from the show.
Entertainment reporter Peter Ford is reporting Evans was “paid in full” — a sum of $200,000 and would have made even more “had he done the show”.
Publicists for the network refused to comment when asked several times about the alleged payment but several hours later issued a denial.
A Network 10 spokeswoman told news.com.au: “Network 10 has made no such payments.”
The backlash against Evans follows comments from the Byron Bay-based chef and author, which appeared to suggest that humans are not capable of spreading COVID-19.
He also shared and later deleted a cartoon that included the Black Sun symbol from Nazi Germany, sparking outage on social media.
He publicly apologised, claiming he had no idea of the symbol’s historical significance.
But when it was pointed out to Evans that he had shared a symbol from Nazi Germany and some occult subcultures, such as Satanism, the chef best known for sharing his paleo diet wisdom responded: “I was waiting for someone to see that”.
Channel 10 was trending on Twitter on Monday night after rumours the network was considering giving Evans’ dangerous views a platform, despite the line-up for the show not being officially announced.
Addressing it on Nova’s Fitzy & Wippa on Friday, host Julia Morris said she hoped it was true.
“Surely at a minimum there’s been a conversation,” she said. “I saw the rumours in the paper and I said please let that be true because that might actually make my year!”
But others, including GPs and frontline staff fighting COVID-19, were horrified by the idea that Evans would appear on the show where he could push his views further.
Dr Vyom Sharma, a GP and medical commentator who doubled down on his earlier comments about Evans, simply tweeted: “F***ing unreal.”
Musician Ben Lee tweeted: “Absolutely not, Channel 10. No airtime for a guy who is using his platform to brainwash and radicalise his audience.”
Evans’ bad week began when he gave a video interview in which he claimed people are not spreaders of the deadly virus.
“Is that what we’ve come here to do? Do we have the belief in ourselves that we’re contagious, that we are spreaders of something?” Evans asked.
“I choose not to believe in that narrative because it doesn’t make any sense to me.”
The interviewer then asked Evans if he was concerned that his choice to ignore medical advice could spread the virus to more vulnerable people.
After scoffing and snorting, Evans replied: “It doesn’t spread the virus.”
It got worse when he shared a cartoon that appeared to support white nationalist views. It included a picture of a caterpillar and a butterfly. On the butterflies wings was the Black Sun symbol made infamous by Nazi Heinrich Himmler.
Evans apologised for sharing the cartoon, writing: “Sincere apologies to anyone who misinterpreted a previous post of a caterpillar and a butterfly having a chat over a drink and perceived that I was promoting hatred.
“I look forward to studying all of the symbols that have ever existed and research them thoroughly before posting.”
His publisher Pan Macmillian has also deserted the chef, announcing on Monday that it was “finalising” its relationship with Evans, saying that it “does not support the recent posts made by Pete Evans”.
“Those views are not our views as a company or the views of our staff. Pan Macmillian is currently finalising its contractual relationship with Pete Evans and as such will not be entering any further publishing agreements moving forward,” the statement read.
“If any retailer wishes to return Pete Evans’ books please contact Pan Macmillian.”
Dymocks Australia promptly followed suit, with the book retailer tweeting that they “are in the process of removing his books from our website and have advised our stores to return their stock as offered by the publisher”.
BIG W has also abandoned Evans in a decision to remove his book titles from the range from 17 November, a spokesman for Woolworths Group told news.com.au.
Other brands to part company with Evans in the last 24 hours include Baccarat, which partnered with Evans on a range of cookware, Readings bookstore and coconut water brand Natural Raw C.
Dr Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, Australia’s leading civil rights organisation, told news.com.au Evans’ latest stunt “represents a new low for Pete Evans who should begin to do some serious soul-searching about his morally indefensible conduct”.
“What’s next, a cookbook of Hitler’s favourite foods? This deeply offensive post is spit on the memory of the brave Diggers who sacrificed their lives to defeat the evil of Hitler and the Third Reich and a kick in the stomach of Holocaust survivors.”