Fact Check

Did O.J. Simpson Tweet That He Would Join SAG-AFTRA Strike?

The former football player has acted and produced professionally in the past.

Published July 14, 2023

 (@KeatonPatti/Twitter)
Image Via @KeatonPatti/Twitter
Claim:
O.J. Simpson tweeted a video expressing his support for ​​SAG-AFTRA actors on strike against major studios in July 2023, and saying he would join them on the picket lines.

In mid-July 2023, the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA), the union representing Hollywood actors and performers, voted to go on strike against major studios after negotiations broke down. 

A tweet by @KeatonPatti went viral on July 13, 2023, purporting to show a screenshot of a tweet and video in which O.J. Simpson appeared to show his support for the strike. The screenshot shows Simpson wearing a green shirt while standing in front of flowers. An overlaid caption quotes him as saying,  "As a proud SAG member, I can't wait to join you all on the picket line."

The screenshot also indicates that Simpson tweeted from his official Twitter account, adding the words, "Union strong. #SAGStrike." 

However, the screenshot is fake. There is no evidence that Simpson issued such a tweet, nor that he made a video in which he expressed support for the guild strike. The writer Keaton Patti, who has previously written stories for humor sites like The Onion, likely shared this screenshot as a joke. Indeed, the replies to the tweet are largely joking about the impact the spectacle of the controversial figure joining the strikes would have.

We went to Simpson's Twitter account, which primarily consists of videos of him sharing his views on a range of topics, but found no tweets in which he expressed support for the strike. The screenshot was likely created by editing a real screenshot from a July 11, 2023, tweet from Simpson titled, "Sports should be equal and fair," in which he shared his views on the inclusion of transgender athletes in sports. In that video, Simpson was shown sitting in front of the same flowers, with the same shirt on, with the camera at the same angle as the one in the manipulated screenshot, and the same reflection in his glasses.


(Screenshot via Twitter/TheRealOJ32)

 

Simpson, a former professional football player, gained notoriety in the 1990s after a sensational trial in which he was acquitted of the murder of his estranged wife, Nicole Brown Simpson, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. In 2008, he was found guilty in a botched robbery and sentenced to more than three decades in prison, of which he served nine years.

Simpson also produced and acted professionally, appearing in "The Naked Gun" movie series, among others. His finances fell under scrutiny upon his 2017 release from prison. Tom Scotto, his friend, told USA Today that Simpson received money from a SAG pension, in addition to his National Football League pension and his personal investments in a retirement fund. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Simpson's SAG pension was protected from the millions of dollars he owed to the families of Brown Simpson and Goldman, after they won a wrongful death lawsuit against him in 1997. 

Simpson's acting and producing credits entitled him to SAG membership and he appears to have a SAG pension as well, but the extent of his active participation in union activities and current status is unknown. 

Regardless, the above screenshot clearly does not show Simpson supporting the actor's strike, rather it was manufactured by altering a separate video and adding a fictional caption. As such, we rate this claim as False. 

Sources

Barco, Mandalit del. "Hollywood Actors Go on Strike, Say It's Time for Studio Execs to 'Wake Up.'" NPR, 13 July 2023. NPR, https://www.npr.org/2023/07/13/1187310535/hollywood-actors-strike-sag-aftra. Accessed 14 July 2023.

Gardner, Eriq. "O.J. Simpson's Former Attorney F. Lee Bailey Gets Bad News About His SAG-AFTRA Pensions." The Hollywood Reporter, 4 Oct. 2017, https://www.hollywoodreporter.com/business/business-news/oj-simpsons-attorney-f-lee-bailey-gets-bad-news-his-sag-aftra-pensions-1045756/. Accessed 14 July 2023.

News, A. B. C. "26 Years Ago, OJ Simpson Was Acquitted: Timeline of His Life and the Sensational Trial." ABC News, https://abcnews.go.com/US/key-moments-oj-simpsons-life/story?id=48724637. Accessed 14 July 2023.

"O.J. Simpson | Actor, Producer." IMDb, https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0001740/. Accessed 14 July 2023.

"O.J. Simpson Acquitted." HISTORY, https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/o-j-simpson-acquitted. Accessed 14 July 2023.

Peter, Josh. "O.J. Simpson's Finances Will Be Closely Watched If Paroled." USA TODAY, https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/2017/07/19/o-j-simpsons-finances-closely-watched-if-paroled/493639001/. Accessed 14 July 2023.

Vercammen, Paul. "O.J. Simpson to Focus on 'friends, Family and Golf,' Live in Gated Community after Release." CNN, 29 Sept. 2017, https://www.cnn.com/2017/09/29/us/o-j-simpson-parole-release-road-to-freedom/index.html. Accessed 14 July 2023.

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.

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