A viral photo of who many believed to be Justin Bieber weirdly eating a burrito was actually a publicity stunt.
The photo, which appeared to show the pop star munching a burrito horizontally while sitting on a park bench, was staged by the company Yes Theory – and actually featured somebody entirely different.
In a YouTube video, titled “We Fooled the Internet w/ Fake Justin Bieber Burrito Photo,” which has been viewed more than 1,188,960 times, the company shows how they used Bieber look-alike Brad Sousaa to trick the internet – by flying him to Los Angeles and having him wear a wig.
“Gotcha,” said Thomas of Yes Theory after showing a compilation of news sources covering the burrito story.
According to the company, it staged the photos because: “We wanted to prove a point – that staging a story, as goofy as it was, can be done much more easily than most people can imagine.”
Yes Theory originally planned to “plant” the image by sending it to as many media organisations as possible – but later found success by posting it to Reddit, specifically the mildly infuriating subreddit.
By the following day, the staged photo had gone viral – further promoted by various interviews with Yes Theory employee Connor, who’d taken the photo and swore it was authentic.
At the same time that the internet was divided over the proper way to eat a burrito, there were also those arguing that the picture was not actually of Bieber.
The Independent briefly fell for the trick, proof of the success of the internet prank.
Even though the photo didn’t show Justin Bieber, it would not have been the first time a celebrity was caught eating food “wrong.”