The first words many of us read on the internet this morning were from a man named Shane Dawson: "i didnt fuck my cat."
The tweet, which was the first of eight in a thread, has garnered 18k retweets, and has already become its own meme on the website (this one is my favourite).
So, how did we get here? It started on Sunday night, when the YouTuber, who was behind the viral TanaCon and Jake Paul YouTube documentaries, delivered a lengthy Twitter screed in response to backlash he's receiving after unearthed audio from a now-deleted podcast episode. In the episode, Dawson, 30, describes a disturbing situation he claims to have shared with his cat, Cheeto.
"One time I laid my cat down on her back...I moved her little chicken legs spread open or whatever," he says on the September 11, 2015 episode of Shane And Friends. "I came all over the cat. It was like my first sexual experience...I was also like 19."
This is Cheeto:
The episode has pretty much been scrubbed, but when rumours of its existence bubbled up over the weekend, Twitter user @magician_dragon found the audio on Google Play Music.
In the clip, Dawson's co-hosts are clearly just as shocked as fans are about the admission. Outrage grew, and finally he took to Twitter to respond in full.
"i didnt fuck my cat. i didnt cum on my cat. i didnt put my dick anywhere near my cat. Ive never done anything weird with my cats," he wrote. "I promised myself i wasnt going to make apology videos after last years thing so im just trying to be as short and honest with this as possible."
(Last year, Dawson apologized for other unearthed podcast audio, in which he said he looked up child porn and found a baby sexy.)
i didnt fuck my cat. i didnt cum on my cat. i didnt put my dick anywhere near my cat. Ive never done anything weird with my cats. I promised myself i wasnt going to make apology videos after last years thing so im just trying to be as short and honest with this as possible. (1/?)— Shane Dawson (@shanedawson) March 18, 2019
In a series of tweets, Dawson clarified that the story was "fake" with the intention of "shocking" listeners. And well, it worked.
"ive apologized many times for all the dumb shit ive said in videos and podcasts over the years. ive learned my lesson over and over again and im more confident now in my ability to be entertaining by just being myself and not being so shocking for laughs," he wrote on Twitter on Sunday. "that story was fake and was based on a dumb awful sketch idea I had years ago that i never made (THANK GOD) and when the opportunity came up for a funny moment in the podcast I told it as if it was a real story which was DISGUSTING and VERY VERY DUMB...my goal with the podcast and with my videos years ago was to tell shocking stories that would make people laugh and scream 'OMG NO U DIDNT!!' and think i was 'soooo crazy'. its embarrassing and i fucking hate myself for it."
Dawson said the offensive jokes he made in his past "still haunt" him, but that he's used his mistakes as motivation to create the content he is making today, most recently a two-part YouTube documentary about conspiracy theories.
"i feel like without my past i wouldnt be who I am today and i wouldnt be able to grow & spend my energy on things that actually mean something. this has been the best 2 years of my life & its because ive been able to drop the act & be myself. and im sorry for not doing it sooner."
But let's remember the real victim in all of this: Cheeto.
Refinery29 has reached out to Dawson for comment.