Fact Check

Bill Gates Takes a Pie to the Face in Classic Video Prank?

Were tarts hidden under coats and in camera bags to pie the billionaire?

Published Sept. 26, 2023

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A viral video authentically shows Bill Gates being hit in the face with a pie in 1998.

For many years, claims have spread on social media platforms that Bill Gates was once hit in the face with a pie.

Here, for example is a YouTube video posted to the platform on April 3, 2020. The video was titled, "Bill Gates - Pie in the Face (The WHO version)." 

The video's description box claimed that Gates being hit in the face had happened in 1998, when writer Noël Godin and "his group" had ambushed Gates in Brussels. We found other social media posts about the claim on platforms like X (formerly known as Twitter), TikTok, and Reddit.

The claim was true. In 1998, Gates was hit in the face with a pie in Brussels.

At the time of the event, reputable publications reported about Gates being hit in the face with the pie, including The New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Tampa Bay Times, and the New York Daily News

The New York Times reported it was Godin's idea, and that his co-conspirators waited for Gates to pass by on the street, holding hidden tarts in camera bags and under their coats. The Times wrote that Godin had previously successfully pied 22 people. The publication also reported part of the reason Gates was chosen to be pied was because Godin felt Gates "chooses to function in the service of the capitalist status quo, without really using his intelligence or his imagination.''

In the aftermath of the pie throwing, Gates declined to press charges. The Tampa Bay Times reported Gates had commented that "one of the worst things about this whole thing was that the pie wasn't even that tasty," according to a Microsoft spokeswoman at the time. 

Because reputable publications reported that Gates had been hit in the face with a pie when it happened and video exists of the incident, we rate the claim as True.


Chicago Tribune. "BELGIANS RELEASE 2 WHO HIT BILL GATES WITH A CREAM PIE." Chicago Tribune, 5 Feb. 1998, https://www.chicagotribune.com/news/ct-xpm-1998-02-05-9802060013-story.html.

"Gates Gets Creamed." Tampa Bay Times, https://www.tampabay.com/archive/1998/02/05/gates-gets-creamed/. Accessed 26 Sept. 2023.

New York Daily News. "Gates Gets Pied: Bill Gates Gets Hit with a Pie in the Face While in Brussels in 1998." New York Daily News, 3 Feb. 2016, https://www.nydailynews.com/2016/02/03/gates-gets-pied-bill-gates-gets-hit-with-a-pie-in-the-face-while-in-brussels-in-1998/.

Lyall, Sarah. "Brussels Journal; The Philosopher With a Pie, and a Glint in the Eye." The New York Times, 20 Apr. 1998. NYTimes.com, https://www.nytimes.com/1998/04/20/world/brussels-journal-the-philosopher-with-a-pie-and-a-glint-in-the-eye.html.

Izz Scott LaMagdeleine is a fact-checker for Snopes.

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