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For the past month or so, YouTube star Shane Dawson could have expected to gain anywhere between 12,000-35,000 new subscribers per day. On Monday, though, he lost subscribers for the first time in at least the past three years.
That was the fallout from newly released audio from an old podcast in which Dawson told a story about “humping” his cat before ejaculating on it.
As the audio came to light on Sunday night, Dawson’s subscriber base took a hit. According to YouTube analytics site Social Blade, Dawson had averaged 14,598 new subscribers per day for the 10 days leading up to the bestiality joke resurfacing.
On Sunday, that number dropped to 5,417, and on Monday, he actually lost 1,338 subscribers, the first time that number dropped into the negatives since at least April 2016, according to Social Blade. Even the last time Dawson had to apologize for pedophilia jokes in 2018, he didn’t actually lose subscribers. But in the early morning hours of Monday, more than 4,400 people abandoned his channel in a three-hour span.
He gained subscribers back later in the day, and as of this writing on Tuesday, Dawson had racked up more than 1,700 new subscribers.
The online anger began on Sunday night when a Twitter user named @clikkiewstr posted an old comedy bit from Dawson where he said, “One time I laid my cat down on her back and I moved her little chicken legs spread or whatever. And I was like if I just hump on her tummy that’s not weird. And then I humped and I humped and I humped and I kept going and I kept going and I came all over the cat. I was like my first sexual experience, and I was 19.”
On Monday, Dawson had to explain that he didn’t actually have sex with his pet, writing on Twitter, “I didn’t fuck my cat. I didn’t cum on my cat. I didn’t put my dick anywhere near my cat. I’ve never done anything weird with my cats.”
The Daily Dot’s YouTuber of the Year for 2018 also distanced himself from his shock comedy bits from the past few years. On Twitter, he wrote, “I’ve apologized many times for all the dumb shit I’ve said in videos and podcasts over the years. I’ve learned my lesson over and over again and I’m more confident now in my ability to be entertaining by just being myself and not being so shocking for laughs. 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.’ It’s embarrassing and I fucking hate myself for it.”
Still, that didn’t stop a digital influencer named Jovan Hill from continuing to hammer Dawson for old racist and pedophiliac-tinged content. Including this one where Dawson tells a young-looking female to “shake your titties more,” films her eating a cocktail wiener because “I have a lot of child molesters watching,” and speaks in a racist Chinese accent.
if you can find an excuse for this i dont want you following me or anyone under 18 pic.twitter.com/eKz2yguHoK— TANA IS A RACIST SCAMMER ➐ (@jovanforever) March 18, 2019
Still, Dawson has more than 21.2 million followers, so the amount of people he lost on Monday is only an infinitesimal percentage of his base. On Tuesday, some of them might have been returning to him anyway.
After his eight-part Twitter apology on Sunday, Dawson has remained relatively quiet online, though he did write Monday, “I feel like I just woke up from 24 hours of sleep paralysis.”
Josh Katzowitz is a staff writer at the Daily Dot specializing in YouTube and boxing. His work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. A longtime sports writer, he's covered the NFL for CBSSports.com and boxing for Forbes. His work has been noted twice in the Best American Sports Writing book series.