UK comedian Joe Lycett has seemingly shredded £10,000 of his own money after issuing “gay icon” David Beckham with an ultimatum over his ambassadorship for Qatar, which as has been widely reported recently, is a country which bans same-sex relationships and has a shocking human rights record.
The Birmingham born comic is well known for his stunts, but this latest one will probably attract the most publicity. He had directed a message to the former Manchester United and Real Madrid superstar, who it is thought is being paid a minimum of £10m for his role with the hosts, and in which the comedian had said he would donate the cash to LGBTQ+ charities if the ex-England captain ended his sponsorship deal with the Qataris ahead of the tournament. However, Beckham did not publicly acknowledge or respond to the ultimatum, prompting Lycett to go through with his threat.
Challenge to Beckham made in all seriousness
In Qatar, participating in same-sex sexual activity can be punished with up to seven years in prison, or even the death penalty. Lycett has posted his video which showed him sat at a desk with wads of cash, praising Beckham as a gay icon and joking that marrying a Spice Girl was “the gayest thing a human being can do.” He then explained with unfamiliar seriousness, that the tiny middle eastern country was regarded as one of the worst places in the world to be gay, which led him to then appeal to the better nature of Mr Beckham, asking him to rethink his deal which although the comedian put at £10m, some believe could be worth in the region of an eye-watering £150m.
Not a shred of doubt in comedian’s mind
His request was for the highly respected star to reconsider the deal with the Arab authorities, saying: “If you end your relationship with Qatar, I will donate ten grand of my own money to charities that support queer people in football.” Before going on to declare: “If you do not I will throw the money into a shredder and not just the money, but also your status as gay icon will be shredded.”
Gone in seconds
Sadly, nothing was forthcoming, so as promised Lycett set up a bright red wood-chipper and proceeded to toss the bundles of cash into one end of the contraption and watched as it spewed out the other in tiny bits. Wearing a rainbow-coloured top, and remaining expressionless throughout, the 34-year-old star then curtseyed to the camera, before leaving. He later shared a video of the act on Twitter and wrote “A platform for progress”.
While it is illegal in the UK to deface a banknote in any way (through the Currency and Banknotes Act of 1928), it is not actually illegal to destroy a banknote altogether.
Stunt not popular in all quarters
It has still to be confirmed that it was genuine money that went through the machine, but it has drawn criticism from some parts. Former UK culture secretary Nadine Dorries had urged the comedian to rethink before the stunt went ahead, tweeting: “Shredding 10k will probably end up earning Joe Lycett more than it cost him and is in effect a paid-for publicity stunt, which has already worked.”
She added that she admired his desire to make a stance, but went onto say: “No one will think any worse of him now if he changes his mind at the last minute and donates it to a homeless shelter in time for Christmas.”
Iconic status in shreds
Beckham posed for the cover of the gay magazine Attitude back in 2002, stating at the time, that he was “honoured to have the tag of gay icon.” He probably has undone over 20 years good work in that community in one single act, of what can only be described as greed, irrespective of the sums of money involved.