Joe Rogan apologizes after video shows repeated N-word use on podcast: ‘I clearly have f*cked up’

Already embroiled in one controversy, Joe Rogan regrets that he’s at the center of another.

Rogan, the popular longtime UFC commentator and podcast host, issued an apology early Saturday morning after a video surfaced of him using the N-word repeatedly through the years while on the air. The video was posted Friday on social media by Grammy Award-winning R&B singer India Arie, who explained why she added her name to a growing list of music artists who have asked Spotify to remove their music from the platform, which also exclusively streams “The Joe Rogan Experience.”

Arie said she empathizes with artists who want their music pulled from Spotify because of Rogan’s podcast spreading COVID-19 vaccine misinformation, but she also felt compelled to call attention to Rogan freely using the N-word in years’ past.

“Spotify is built on the back of the music streaming,” Arie said. “So they take this money that’s built from streaming, and they pay this guy $100 million, but they pay us .003 percent of a penny? Just take me off. I don’t wanna generate money that pays this. Just take me off. That’s where I’m at.”

The video shared by Arie is a quick mashup that contains no fewer than 23 instances of Rogan using the N-word on his show. After showing it to her followers, Arie made her stance clear.

“So we know how social media can be: Things can be doctored, people are taken out of context, it’s happened to me many times,” Arie said. “However, I wanna be clear in no uncertain terms where I stand on this is that he shouldn’t even be uttering the word. Don’t even say it under any context.”

In response, Rogan said the video “looks f*cking terrible” and called it “the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly.” He explained the context in which he said the N-word, but made no excuses.

“I know that, to most people, there’s 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,” Rogan said. “But for a long time when I would 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. Like that context was (in) part of the clip we were talking about was Redd Foxx, how Redd Foxx said that word on television in the 1970s and how times have changed so much since then; or about how Richard Pryor used it in the title of one of his albums; or how I was quoting a Lenny Bruce bit; or I was quoting a Paul Mooney bit; or I was talking about how Quentin Tarantino used it repeatedly in ‘Pulp Fiction’; or I was talking about how a Netflix executive ironically used it because he was trying to compare it to another offensive word, he said it out loud, and they fired him – not calling anybody a word, just saying the word out loud.

“I was also talking about how there’s not another word like it in the entire English language because it’s a word where only one group of people is allowed to use it, and they can use it in so many different ways. If a white person says that word, it’s racist and toxic. But a black person can use it, and it can be a punchline, it can be a term of endearment, it can be lyrics to a rap song, it can be a positive affirmation. 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. I never used it to be racist because I’m not racist, but whenever you’re in a situation where you have to say ‘I’m not racist,’ you f*cked up. And I clearly have f*cked up.”

Rogan went on to admit that he’s said “a lot of stupid f*cking sh*t” on his podcast through the years, “which is fine when you’re talking about most things but not when you’re talking about race.”

‘Planet of the Apes’ story

Rogan also addressed telling a story on a podcast episode 11 years ago in which he talked about watching the film “Planet of the Apes” with friends at a theater in a Black neighborhood. In telling the story, Rogan appeared to compare Black people to apes, which he said was not his intention.

“We got really high, we were in Philadelphia, and we went to go see ‘Planet of the Apes.’ And we didn’t know where we were going; we’d just got dropped off by a cab, and we got dropped off in this all-Black neighborhood,” Rogan said. “And I was trying to make the story entertaining, and I said, ‘We got out, and it was like we were in Africa. It was like we were in ‘Planet of the Apes.” I did not, nor would I ever say, that Black people are apes, but it sure f*cking sounded like that. I immediately afterward 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 on to talk about what a positive experience it was and how much fun it was to go see this movie in a Black neighborhood. It wasn’t a racist story, but it sounded terrible.

“And like I said, you can have clunky stories about anything but not about race. 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, and I certainly would never want to offend someone for entertainment with something as stupid as racism.”


Joe Rogan down for Francis Ngannou to box Tyson Fury: 'I want to see him get a giant chunk of money'

UFC champ Julianna Peña: COVID-19 'is just a money grab ... they're trying to kill us'

Dana White: Joe Rogan deserves much respect for helping build the sport of MMA

Two controversies, different responses

In 2020, Spotify bought exclusive streaming rights for Rogan’s podcast in a deal worth a reported $100 million. The protests against Spotify from music artists began with Neil Young, who called for Spotify to either remove his music or Rogan’s podcast off its platform, saying the podcast was spreading misinformation about the COVID-19 vaccine. Two days later, Spotify granted Young’s request and pulled his music.

Rogan’s podcast episode with Dr. Robert Malone, who was banned by Twitter for violating COVID misinformation policies, led nearly 300 doctors, physicians and scientists to sign a letter asking Spotify to crack down on COVID misinformation on its platform. When Rogan had Dr. Peter McCullough on his show, the cardiologist said the pandemic was planned and that vaccines for COVID are merely experimental despite evidence to the contrary.

While Rogan’s response to the COVID misinformation controversy took a more defiant tone, he expressed regret for his past use of the N-word.

“I can’t go back in time and change what I said. I wish I could, but obviously that’s not possible,” Rogan said. “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 me just 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.”

More than 70 episodes of “The Joe Rogan Experience” were removed from Spotify late Friday, according to Rolling Stone. Spotify has yet to provide a reason as of this writing.