YouTuber Lauren Love, who pretended to be Walmart’s CEO and “fired” employees in a store in Richmond, Texas has apologized to the elderly Filipina she left in tears after her prank.
In a 10-minute video posted yesterday, Love repeatedly apologized to 67-year-old Filipina Maria Leones, saying that she was “truly sorry.”
However, she also defended herself and said that she was not the first YouTuber to do the prank.
“For video content we do stuff that people are gonna watch and that’s entertaining. So public experience [content] are literally only meant for entertaining,” she said.
Love explained that as a YouTuber, creating content is how she pays the bills.
“But I did not mean for it to go the way it did. So I’m genuinely sorry. To the lady, if you’re watching this, I am really truly sorry. Honestly, I did not mean for you to get upset about it.”
The Joel and Lauren TV YouTube channel, which Love owns with her partner Joel Ashley, posted the now-deleted prank video on YouTube on April 23, according to NBC affiliate Click2Houston. However, it has since been re-uploaded by other accounts.
In the video, Love can be seen in a wig and corporate attire posing as Walmart’s CEO. She approaches Walmart employees and tells them they’re “fired.”
“I’m in charge today, so I’m firing you. You’re working horrible, you’re moving slow,” she told one man. The man tried to explain that he was just doing as he was told, but Love demanded that he surrender his Walmart vest and name badge. She eventually told him: “I’m just kidding, it’s a prank … You’re doing a great job.”
Her last victim was Leones, who was in the gardening section. Love asked when her shift was and Leones answered that she was working the 9-to-6 shift and was assigned at the cashier.
“Oh you’re in the cashier, so wait why are you here?” Love asked.
“I don’t have… [W]hen we have no customers, then they ask us also to do something,” Leones explained.
Love then tells Leones that she’s the CEO and that her father used to own the Walmart branch.
“I will prefer if you were actually over there [at the cashier], I don’t understand why you’re over here,” Love told Leones. “Actually I’m gonna need to see your badge, I’m gonna need to see your badge and your vest because you’re fired.”
Leones asked why, to which Love replied: “You’re fired because I don’t appreciate you walking around here. You’re supposed to be at the cashier, cashing people out. What if someone was looking around and they don’t see you because you’re busy over here?”
Love proceeded to tell Leones that she can look for a different Walmart to work in, adding that her discharge papers would be given to her by the manager.
Leones stuttered before telling Love that she has been working at that Walmart for six years.
“I have been here for six year … and I’ve been doing my job very well … I’ve been regarded as employee of the month,” Leones told Love before crying.
Love stopped the charade then hugged and apologized to Leones. She then told the Filipina that she isn’t actually fired. “You’re doing a really good job. I didn’t mean to make you cry.”
Many netizens criticized the video which has circulated on social media.
Leones told Click2Houston in an interview published on May 8 that she was crushed by the incident.
“Really, I was really so crushed. I felt so little, I felt so powerless. At that very moment, I felt so little because back home I had a very good reputation because I’m a professor.”
Leones is originally from the Philippines and moved to the US to be with her kids and grandkids. Her husband recently had a heart attack and underwent a quadruple bypass. Leones said she was upset because her job is what pays for her husband’s medical expenses.
“At that moment, I thought about my husband, my husband,” Leones said.
Antonette Leones Ventura, Leones’ daughter, told Coconuts Manila through a Facebook message that despite the prank video, her mother is now doing well.
“Lauren Love has taken down the [prank] video, and aired a lame apology where she justified what she did instead of truly apologize. My mom was asked by Walmart not to do any more interviews,” Ventura said.
She said she was the one who contacted local news about the prank video last week. “I wanted the bullying to be exposed and stopped,” Ventura said.
“A very close friend of mine who did not take the issue lightly contacted multiple Walmart CEOs and she was informed yesterday that legal actions are now being made against Lauren Love,” Ventura told Coconuts.
Love is now banned in all Walmart stores.
This article, YouTuber apologizes to elderly Filipina Walmart worker for pretending to fire her in prank video, originally appeared on Coconuts, Asia's leading alternative media company. Want more Coconuts? Sign up for our newsletters!