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Joe Rogan apologizes for past use of racial slur, calls it ‘most regretful and shameful’ moment in his career

UFC 264 Weigh-in Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Joe Rogan issued a lengthy apology after a video surfaced earlier this week showing him repeatedly using a racial slur on his podcast.

The comedian and UFC color commentator was responding to a video posted by singer India Arie after she announced plans to pull her music for Spotify while showing a clip where Rogan used the ‘N-word’ numerous times on his show over the years.

“I’m making this video to talk about the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly,” Rogan said on Instagram. “There’s a video that’s out that’s a compilation of me saying the ‘N-word.’ It’s a video that’s made of clips taken out of context of me of 12 years of conversations of me on my podcast and it’s all smushed together and it looks f*cking horrible, even to me.

“Now, I know that to most people there is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast, and I agree with that now. I haven’t said it in years, but for a long time when I bring that word up, like if it would come up in conversation, instead of saying the ‘N-word,’ I would just say the word. I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing.”

Rogan explained that he used the racial slur while discussing comedians such as Redd Foxx, Richard Pryor, Lenny Bruce and Paul Mooney as well as instances where the word was used in films by directors like Quentin Tarantino.

Arie blasted Rogan for using the racial slur, announcing she would no longer allow her music on Spotify, the streaming music service that spent over $100 million for exclusive rights to Rogan’s popular podcast.

“He shouldn’t even be uttering the word,” Arie said. “Don’t even say it, under any context. Don’t say it. That’s where I stand. I have always stood there.”

Spotify, which just removed 70 episodes of Rogan’s podcast, had already been under intense scrutiny for several controversial gusts speaking about the COVID-19 pandemic on his show. Rogan had previously addressed those issues where he was accused of spreading “dangerous misinformation” after Spotify announced plans to label episodes with a warning when dealing with COVID-19.

Now, Rogan has admitted fault in another public statement.

“It’s a very unusual word, but it’s not my word to use. I’m well aware of that now, but for years, I used it in that manner,” Rogan said. “I never used it to be racist cause I’m not racist, but whenever you’re in a situation where you have to say ‘I’m not racist,’ you f*cked up. I clearly have f*cked up.

“That’s my intention to express myself in this video to say there’s nothing I can do to take that back. I wish I could. Obviously, that’s not possible. I do hope that if anything, that this can be a teachable moment. I never thought it would be taken out of context and put in a video like that and now that it is, holy sh*t it looks bad.”

Rogan also addressed one particular clip posted where he compared being dropped off by a cab driver in a Black neighborhood to arriving in “Planet of the Apes.”

“I did not nor would I ever say Black people are apes but it sure f*cking sounded like that,” Rogan said. “I immediately afterwards said that’s a racist thing to say. ‘Planet of the Apes’ wasn’t even in Africa. I was just saying there’s a lot of Black people there. But then I went onto talk about what a positive experience it was and how much fun it was to go see this move in a Black neighborhood.

“It wasn’t a racist story, but it sounded terrible. Like I said, you can have clunky stories about anything but not about race. So I deleted that whole podcast, but obviously somebody made a clip out of it and taken out of context it looks terrible. But it looks terrible even in context. It’s a f*cking idiotic thing to say. I was just trying to be entertaining. I certainly wasn’t trying to be racist.”

In a town hall with employees, Spotify CEO Daniel Ek defended the platform’s deal with Rogan, who has the No. 1 podcast on the streaming service, adding the company doesn’t condone everything said on his show to explain why numerous episodes have been pulled in the past.

“I understand the premise that because we have an exclusive deal with him, it’s really easy to conclude we endorse every word he says and believe the opinions expressed by his guests,” Ek said. “That’s absolutely not the case.

“There are many things that Joe Rogan says that I strongly disagree with and find very offensive.”

Spotify has not directly responded to the video posted where Rogan used racial slurs or the apology he issued on Friday.

For his part, Rogan says he can only apologize now and promise to do better moving forward.

“I can’t go back in time and change what I’ve said. I wish I could,” Rogan said. “Obviously, that’s not possible. But I do hope that this can be a teachable moment for anybody that doesn’t realize how offensive that word can be coming out of a white person’s mouth in context or out of context.

“My sincere and humble apologies. I wish there was more that I could say, but all of this is just me talking from the bottom of my heart. It makes me sick watching that video, but hopefully, at least some of you will accept this and understand where I’m coming from. My sincere, deepest apologies and much love.”