Sorry To Inform You, But The Church-Scamming Ed Sheeran Impersonator Is Not Real
No, the man did not perform 'Shape Of You' for $35 and a sandwich.
On Wednesday, a photo of an alleged Ed Sheeran impersonator turned fugitive went viral online.
Shared by the known satire Facebook page Portsmouth Ohio Official, the post about a runaway named Ronnie Williams Jr. gained attention on both Facebook and Twitter.
Accompanied with a photo of a man who could look like Ed Sheeran if you squinted your eyes hard enough in a dark room, the post read: “The fugitive task force is looking for Ronnie Williams Jr. of Sciotoville for fraud.”
“He has convinced three local churches that he is Ed Sheeran and even went as far as performing ‘Shape Of You’ in front of Christ Community Church last Sunday,” the post continued. “When the pastor was asked why he believed the real Ed Sheeran would perform for $35 and a sandwich, he said he just assumed he had fell on tough times.”
The fake post quickly went viral on Facebook with over 41,000 shares on the original and another 330,000 likes on Twitter in just 24 hours. “YOU’RE LYING I’M DEADD,” the viral tweet read.
Sadly the tweet was correct — the Ed Sheeran impersonator who performed for a measly $35 and a sandwich was indeed fake. The Portsmouth Ohio Official Facebook page is clearly tagged as satire/parody and even describes itself as “a news and entertainment satire web publication… for entertainment purposes only.”
YOURE LYING IM DEADD pic.twitter.com/9mwRHIO8I8
— V (@thatone_desi) February 26, 2020
Despite this clear statement that the post was not real, publications still ran the story as true. Most notably, TODAY fell for the fake photo and did a whole segment on “Ronnie Williams Jr” and his extraordinary church swindle.
Newsreader Tracy Vo introduced the segment where she claimed that a “major manhunt was underway” for the fugitive. After uploading the clip to Twitter, the Today Show deleted the video after finding out it wasn’t real. Addressing the misstep on-air, co-hosts Karl Stefanovic and Allison Langdon said: “It turns out it was a fake news story all along. We did fall for this one.”
“It was from a satirical news site,” they said. “Still a good laugh.”
Referencing Today’s gullibility, Portsmouth Ohio Official shared the video on their own page and said: “Once again, I’ve managed to just make something up off the top of my head and get multiple major news outlets to run it as the truth.”
“This is the reason why we’re in the political mess that we’re in,” the page continued. “People just blindly believe anything.”
This is the second time that Portsmouth Ohio Official have duped a major media company into reporting on their fake stories. In 2019, Fox News ran a story about another one of Portsmouth Ohio’s “celebrity imposters” — this time with American country music singer, Travis Tritt.
While the wannabe Travis Tritt did not perform for sandwiches in this made up story, the impersonator did accept $2250 before he fled because he did know any songs by the artist.
Junkee have reached out to Portsmouth Ohio Official for comment.