Jake Paul's biggest controversies: how the notorious YouTuber found fame through scandal

jake paul boxing
Jake Paul celebrates after winning his boxing pro debut on January 30, 2020 part of Matchroom Boxing and DAZN Miami Fight Night at the Meridian in Miami, Florida.Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
  • With 20 million subscribers, Jake Paul is one of the most infamous YouTubers of his generation.

  • He has leveraged one controversy after another to stay in the public eye.

  • Paul has been charged with criminal trespassing and accused of sexual abuse, among other scandals.

At 25, Jake Paul is one of the biggest and most notorious names in the influencer industry.

But Paul's numerous controversies and scandals are what continue to propel the YouTuber and boxer to fame and fortune. More than 20 million subscribers tune in to watch his antics, and while he was booted from Disney Channel in 2017, Paul has leveraged his bad reputation to keep his career going.

Now, the creator is making a name for himself in the world of boxing. He's defeated Nate Robinson, Ben Askren, Tyron Woodley, and Anderson Silva, among others.

Mike Tyson said in one 2020 press conference that YouTubers like Paul benefit the boxing industry. "Now we got these YouTubers, 20 million subscribers? Boxing is coming back thanks to these YouTube boxers," Tyson said. "I believe the more anyone boxes, the better it is. Boxing has taken some beatings since the UFC has been around."

In an interview with Insider's combat sports correspondent Alan Dawson, Paul said "boxing just sits differently" with him, as opposed to YouTube, acting, and music. "I wake up every day with fire in my belly," Paul said. "That's just where the passion, hard work, and dedication comes from."

Here's how Paul simultaneously became one of the most popular and most hated YouTubers, starting from his rise to notoriety on the short-form video platform Vine in 2013.

Paul's first major career accomplishment was a role on the Disney Channel series "Bizaardvark," but he was fired mid-season after his neighbors went public with complaints about him.

Jake Paul's Disney Channel intro became a meme after he got fired.
Jake Paul's Disney Channel intro became a meme after he got fired.Screenshot/YouTube Jake Paul 2

Like many top YouTubers today, including his big brother Logan, Jake Paul got his start on Vine in 2013. By the time the app was discontinued, Paul had over 5.3 million followers and 2 billion views on the app, where his brash humor and stunts especially appealed to a young audience. This notoriety among a young demographic landed Paul a role on the Disney Channel.

The series "Bizaardvark" is itself a nod to the type of social media fame that Paul accrued for himself, and his character resembled his real-life online persona. On the show, Paul played Dirk, host of a video segment on a YouTube-esque series called "Dare Me Bro," where his character took dare requests. Paul began appearing on "Bizaardvark" in 2015, when the series started, but Disney announced his exit in 2017, and Paul later revealed he had been fired.

What Paul says led to his firing was a local TV news segment about his YouTube channel, which was the less Disney-friendly, real-life version of "Dare Me Bro." KTLA 5 visited the West Hollywood neighborhood where Paul was living in July 2017 and interviewed Paul's neighbors about his YouTube stunts. They were extremely displeased.

 

By this point, Paul, then 20, had already jump-started his notorious "Team 10" YouTube collective. He had more than 8.5 million YouTube subscribers and filmed pranks and stunts in his neighborhood that included starting a massive fire in his backyard, doing dirt bike stunts on his street, and building a waterslide to shoot people into his pool.

His neighbors called the situation a "living hell" and a "war zone." After Paul leaked his own address online, fans showed up en masse, and by that point, his neighbors in Beverly Grove had enough. Paul's neighbors met with police and city officials to discuss the possibility of a class-action public nuisance lawsuit, and the company that owned Paul's house sued him for $2.5 million.

After getting fired by Disney midway through the second season of "Bizaardvark," Paul announced he would be moving on to more adult acting ventures and focusing on his YouTube channel, business ventures, and personal brand.

Those business ventures proved controversial too, and Paul has been accused of trying to scam young followers more than once.

Jake Paul
Paul dropped a diss track about teachers — titled "My Teachers" — in 2018.Rich Fury/Getty Images

Paul's ventures tend to revolve around a central theme: Paul tells his kid subscribers that education isn't important, since he didn't do well in school but became rich and famous, and other kids should follow his lead. This might be best exemplified with Paul's widely-mocked diss track about teachers.

But Paul doesn't just diss education. He's attempted to start two of his own educational programs that theoretically instruct followers on how to be influential and make money through online pursuits like his own. Paul has enacted two very similar schemes themed around that idea. The first was "Edfluence."

"Edfluence" was launched in 2018, and it was supposed to be a series of videos fan could unlock for just $7 that would give them a "roadmap" to success as an influencer. Except, as many YouTubers and publications pointed out, the $7 didn't unlock the program in its entirety. It just unlocked a few videos with basic tips like "have a phone," and "if you like makeup, create makeup videos."

If you wanted all the videos, you had to pay an additional $57.

Even worse, part of Edfluence's appeal was that Paul promised fans would have an opportunity to join "Team 1000," a seemingly expanded version of "Team 10," his YouTube-famous clique. As Gooden noted in his 2020 update on Edfluence, "Team 1000" never happened, and those who paid $57 just got access to a few disappointing videos about YouTube tips and tricks.

The website for Edfluence no longer exists, so people who paid $64 back in 2018 can no longer access any of the videos. But in February 2020, Paul launched a new educational subscription-based platform called the Financial Freedom Movement. It has essentially the same premise as Edfluence, but initially, you paid a $19.99 fee to create an account.

 

Paul has also gotten heat for numerous controversial comments and inappropriate videos, including the use of racial slurs.

jake paul
Jake Paul in front of his Team 10 mansion.Shane Dawson/YouTube

Many of Paul's videos have come under fire for being inappropriate for a young audience, since a lot of them revolve around sexual and violent content. In January 2018, for example, Paul uploaded a vlog called "I lost my virginity," which initially had a thumbnail of Paul and then-girlfriend Erika Costell posing semi-nude. The video was age-restricted, and after scrutiny from other YouTubers, Paul changed the thumbnail and eventually deleted the vlog.

But recently, Paul has leaned even more into sexual content, creating a number of videos that feature famous pornstar Riley Reid.

Another incident that sparked criticism was when Paul decided to tweet that anxiety was self-inflicted. "Remember anxiety is created by you," Paul tweeted in February 2020. "Sometimes you gotta let life play out and remind yourself to be happy & that the answers will come." He added some advice for anxious readers: "chill your mind out," "go for a walk," and "talk to a friend."

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While there are plenty of examples of Paul getting called out for his behavior, one that got overshadowed by Logan Paul's infamous "suicide forest" incident (a video shot by the elder Paul that was widely condemned) was Jake using the n-word.

In January 2018, TMZ surfaced a video of Paul from Coachella weekend in 2015. In the 49-second clip, Paul starts freestyle rapping over the song "Throw Sum Mo" by Rae Sremmurd, and he says the N-word twice. The clip got attention, but since Logan Paul's "suicide forest" vlog had been uploaded just days prior to the clip resurfacing, most of the attention fell on Logan.

Paul had a short-lived "marriage" to another famous YouTuber, Tana Mongeau, which included a disastrous paid wedding livestream.

Tana Mongeau/Jake Paul
Paul with his fake bride Tana Mongeau.Denise Truscello / Getty Images

Another focal point of controversies involving Paul is his relationships. Paul has faked two marriages, referring to the practice himself as entertainment "like the WWE," or partially staged wrestling matches. The first fake wedding saga involved his ex-girlfriend Erika Costell, the same girlfriend with whom he made the virginity loss vlog.

The second fake wedding was to Tana Mongeau, and the saga definitely paid off. From the relationship's inception, to the wedding and eventual breakup, it was worth an estimated $600 million in media value. But as Mongeau explained after the "divorce," (the wedding was never legally binding) elements of Paul's fake relationships have felt unfair to the women he's been involved with. Mongeau described the "wedding" night as "hell" and said while she dealt with a family emergency the day after, Paul continued on to their planned honeymoon, where he posed with a group of half-naked women.

Mongeau isn't the only one of Paul's exes to say that Paul is a bad boyfriend. In Shane Dawson's series on Paul, he interviewed Alissa Violet, another one of Paul's ex-girlfriends. Violet explained to Dawson that she and Paul faked their relationship, but behind-the-scenes, she "chased" actual love and affection from Paul. Her story eerily resembles Mongeua's own tell-all about the difficulties of trying to get Paul to engage in something real while maintaining a forced relationship on-camera.

And Violet added that Paul once dragged her down a flight of stairs during a fight, breaking her iPhone in the process. She specified to Dawson that she doesn't view Paul as physically abusive, but she accused Paul of emotional and mental abuse.

"I can't even remember a conversation where it was like, me walking away feeling good about myself," Violet told Dawson. "I'm still disgusted by it, because it's not who I am."

Paul was charged with trespassing in Arizona after video circulated of him at a mall where looting and vandalism occured.

jake paul 2017
Jake Paul poses for a portrait at the Music Lodge during the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah.Taylor Jewell/Invision/AP

On May 31, 2020, Paul and his friends posted videos to social media of themselves at the Scottsdale Fashion Square shopping mall in Scottsdale, Arizona.

Paul said he was there to take part in the George Floyd protests and to film the looting and vandalism in the mall so that he could show his audience what was really going on, but police opened an investigation into his presence at the mall and he was charged with criminal trespass and unlawful assembly.

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Paul responded to news of the charges on Twitter, writing "gimme my charges and let's put the focus back on George Floyd and Black Lives Matter."

Paul stoked tension between himself and the mayor of Calabasas by throwing a party during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Jake Paul is one of several influencers who have been widely criticized for hosting and attending parties as LA's COVID-19 cases continue to spike.
Jake Paul was one of several influencers who were widely criticized for hosting and attending parties as LA's COVID-19 cases continue to spike.Photo by Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images, Screenshot YouTube/Jake Paul

Paul caused controversy yet again when he threw a massive party for his music video shoot in July 2020, during a high point in COVID-19 cases in California. Videos showed maskless influencers swinging from heavy machinery in Paul's backyard.

The mayor of Calabasas, Alicia Weintraub, spoke out about the incident at the time, saying she was outraged.

"The City of Calabasas will be enforcing a zero-tolerance [policy] for large gatherings that defy local public health orders," she told Insider.

In a later interview, Paul told Insider that he didn't know if he'd continue partying, even after the incident, and criticized government leaders, saying, "our leadership is failing us, and everyone kind of just doesn't know what to do. But I personally am not the type of person who's gonna sit around and not live my life."

In August 2020, the FBI executed a federal search warrant of Paul's mansion.

Jake Paul
Louis Grasse/PxImages/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

 

On August 5, 2020, the FBI conducted a search of Paul's mansion in Calabasas, California, in connection with Paul's involvement in the Arizona mall raid in Scottsdale. The federal agents seized firearms from the house, according to The Washington Post.

The news was first reported by TMZ. The outlet shared photos of law enforcement agents and a vehicle approaching the home.

The US Attorney's Office later said Paul would not face federal charges related to the investigation.

Paul said he believed COVID-19 was a hoax.

Jake Paul boxing
Paul compared Covid-19 to the flu.Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images

In an interview with The Daily Beast ahead of his November 28, 2020, fight with Nate Robinson, Paul said he believed COVID-19 was a hoax.

Paul later claimed in an interview with The Verge that The Daily Beast's Marlow Stern had taken his quotes "out of context," so Stern shared the full audio of their interview in which Paul made the comments.

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"There are people losing jobs, there are small businesses who are going bankrupt, there are millions of people who are unemployed right now, people are turning to alcohol and drugs to cope with everything that's going on. This is the most detrimental thing to our society," Paul said in his interview with The Daily Beast. "COVID cases are at less than 1%, and I think the disease is a hoax."

In Los Angeles County, where Paul lived at the time, the daily positivity rate for COVID-19 tests was 7.3% in November 2020, an increase from the 3.9% rate reported on November 1.

In his interview with The Verge, Paul claimed that the disease "killed someone very, very close to me."

Two women accused Paul of sexual assault in 2021.

Jake Paul
Paul denied one of the sexual assault allegations against him, claiming it was "manufactured."Megan Briggs/Getty Images

In April 2021, two women came forward with abuse allegations against Paul. The first was Justine Paradise, who has over half a million TikTok followers. She released a 20-minute YouTube video in which she accused Paul of sexual abuse, alleging he forced her to perform oral sex on him in his bedroom at the "Team 10" house in July 2019. She said they danced and kissed consensually at first, but that it became non-consensual as Paul allegedly got physical with her.

Paul denied the allegation in a Twitter statement, calling it "manufactured" and claiming he had never had a sexual relationship with her.

Another woman, the actress and model Railey Lollie, came forward later that month accusing Paul of groping her without consent in 2017, according to The New York Times. Lollie began working with Paul when she was 17 and said he would call her "jailbait," the Times reported.

It's unclear whether the influencer was ever investigated or sued in connection with the abuse allegations. Paradise said in a follow-up update to her allegations video that she had received an onslaught of death threats in her private messages.

Puerto Rico officials investigated Paul for a driving incident.

Jake Paul sunglasses
Paul received intense backlash online after it was reported that he drove over a protected beach in Puerto Rico.Ethan Miller/Getty Images

In May 2021, Puerto Rico's Dept. of Natural & Environmental Resources launched an investigation into Paul after video emerged of him driving over a protected beach on the island nation.

Sea turtles commonly nest on Puerto Rico's beaches from February to August, and locals and tourists are advised to tread carefully to ensure that the protected species hatch safely.

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Puerto Rico's Environment Secretary Rafael Machargo told the BBC that people who break the law by riding on the beach could "face fines and other penalties, if applicable."

Paul received significant backlash online, and more than 219,000 people signed a petition urging authorities to "charge him with a crime."

Paul continues to stoke controversy and backlash in 2022, mainly in the boxing world.

Jake Paul boxing
Paul has made headlines for calling out boxers.Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Paul continued to leverage controversy for attention in 2022, especially in the boxing world. He's made numerous headlines and earned derision for calling out fellow boxers like Tommy Fury, Nate Diaz, and Canelo Alvarez.

After beating former UFC middleweight champion Anderson Silva in a boxing match in late October, the influencer also made a derisive statement aimed at UFC President Dana White.

In November 2022, Paul teased a video on Twitter suggesting he would face off in a fight against Andrew Tate, the kickboxer-turned-influencer who went viral for his misogynistic "self-help" tips. Paul previously said that Tate, who has been banned from multiple social media platforms, would be "too scared" to fight him or his brother Logan.

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Paul continues to make videos on his YouTube channel, which has maintained a consistent level of subscribers throughout the last year, according to the data analytics website Social Blade. He only gained 100,000 subscribers in the last month — a sign that maybe viewers are finally growing tired of him, or his influencer relevancy is fading as he continues his pivot to boxing.

 

Read the original article on Insider