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Conspiracy theorists immediately took advantage of Kobe Bryant’s death on Sunday after the legendary basketball star was involved in a helicopter crash.
The 41-year-old and eight others passed away, TMZ reported, after an accident involving the athlete’s private helicopter in the California city of Calabasas.
While sports fans mourned Bryant’s passing, conspiracy theorists online latched onto the tragedy as proof of their distorted beliefs.
Specifically, adherents of the QAnon conspiracy, which claims that a secret government entity known as “Q” is aiding President Donald Trump in dismantling the “deep state,” began concocting theories surrounding Bryant’s passing.
The group, which has been tied to numerous instances of violence and deemed a potential domestic terror threat by the FBI, has even suggested that Bryant’s death may have been intentional in an effort to distract the public from the impeachment trial against the president.
“Kobe’s death would definitely overshadow the impeachment trial,” Twitter user @XanderHamiltQn said alongside numerous Q-related hashtags.
Is this whole situation with Kobe Bryant a distraction from the impeachment hearings rn?— Anonymous 𝑸 Patriot 🇺🇸 (@ttp13526) January 26, 2020
I mean, allegedly Kobe’s whole family died on that helicopter...
Note that the [DS] are taking some serious blows rn... Virus exposed with patent, impeachment getting exposed, etc.#QAnon
Following any high-profile death, Q believers often suggest that the deceased may have been silenced for preparing to reveal secret information detrimental to the president’s enemies.
“AND what did Kobe know?” @ImADarkNight asked. “Just a thought. Maybe nothing. Very sad though.”
Jordan Sather, one of the conspiracies’ most vocal believers, also insinuated that Bryant’s death was unlikely to be an accident.
“Kobe will now be all the news networks talk about for the next week,” Sather said. “It’s almost as if someone wanted it that way…”
The conspiracy theorist also went on to falsely claim that “70%” of all reported helicopter and plane crashes weren’t accidental.
Numerous accounts also highlighted several interactions Bryant had had with former President Bill Clinton, adding that the former politician may have been responsible.
“Mess with the devil and you’ll get taken out,” Twitter user @jaimerockstar said.
Showcasing just how desperately QAnon believers will reach to tie in any and every insignificant event to their conspiracy, many also began pointing to a years-old car commercial featuring Bryant.
In the ad, the basketball player is seen driving a vehicle with a child dressed in a peanut costume. Food company Planters announced last week that it had killed off their iconic mascot Mr. Peanut. Therefore, the conspiracists claim, Bryant’s death was no accident.
Red pilled 💊 woke folk make this go viral! Kobe was sacrificed in a helicopter crash by the Illuminati/Deep State (DS) It’s so obvious they want to distract from sham impeachment!— QAnon 5:5 (@QAnon55) January 26, 2020
Kobe was sacrificed with Mr Peanut this weekend!
Mr Peanut Kobe commercial: https://t.co/Fb7kxBGpuU https://t.co/EYfF1GBV1G
Kobe just died....and guess what: it was predicted in a toon: helicrash. And mr. peanut funeral circulated on Twitter. Guess what!? He was in a peanut commercial! No coincidences!— Sheep Awakening (@SchaapWakker) January 26, 2020
Sadly, while conspiracy theorists were busy inventing their absurd claims, news broke that Bryant’s 13-year-old daughter Gianna was also killed in the helicopter crash.
This story has been updated.
Mikael Thalen is a tech and security reporter based in Seattle, covering social media, data breaches, hackers, and more.