Lori Loughlin's daughter, Olivia Jade, comes under fire online over college-cheating scandal

The social media influencer and University of Southern California student is now under scrutiny over past online comments such as, "I don't really care about school."
Image: Lori Loughlin, right, and her daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli attend a gala in Beverly Hills, California, on Feb. 27, 2018.
Lori Loughlin, right, and her daughter Olivia Jade Giannulli attend a gala in Beverly Hills, California, on Feb. 27, 2018.Axelle / Bauer-Griffin / FilmMagic file

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By Ben Kesslen

The indictment of 50 people, including "Full House" star Lori Loughlin, in a college exam cheating plot, led to the resurfacing of past comments from her daughter, YouTube celebrity and social media influencer Olivia Jade.

It also set off an online discussion about what many see as a college admissions system that favors the wealthy.

Loughlin and her husband, fashion designer Mossimo Giannulli, agreed to pay bribes totaling $500,000 to bolster their two daughters' chances of gaining admission to the University of Southern California, the indictment claims.

But one of the daughters, Olivia Giannulli, who goes by the name Olivia Jade and is now in her first year at USC, apparently didn’t always want to go to college.

In 2018, Olivia Jade — who has almost 2 million YouTube subscribers — said in a video: “I don’t know how much of school I’m gonna attend ... I do want the experience of like game days, partying … I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”

She later posted an apology video, entitled, “im sorry,” in which she apologized for the comments and said, “A lot of people like to attack me for the way I’ve grown up because it’s really different from a lot of people, and so anything I say that’s remotely ignorant or bratty or something that I genuinely don't mean, it gets so much backlash."

NBC News was unable to immediately reach either her or her mother for comment.

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Olivia Jade has continued to express views that attending college was not her dream. In a recent podcast interview on the “Zach Sang Show," she said she attends USC “mostly because my parents really wanted me to go.”

She also tweeted last month that making YouTube videos is her "#1 passion." “I promise I’d way rather be filming 24/7 than sitting in 6 hours of classes straight,” she said.

A successful social media influencer with millions of followers across platforms, Olivia Jade even appears to have leveraged her newfound status as a college student to attract advertisers.

On Instagram, she posted a picture sponsored by Smile Direct Club, an online seller of orthodontic retainers, saying, “For back-to-school season, I’ve been using a doctor-directed, at-home invisible aligner treatment with @SmileDirectClub.”

She also posted pictures of her in her dorm room in an ad for Amazon Student.

The release of the indictment Tuesday set off dialogue online about racial and income disparities in college admissions.

Clint Smith, a writer, teacher and doctoral candidate at Harvard University, posted that wealthy parents can "buy their way" into elite schools, while students of color and low-income students at such colleges are often made to feel "undeserving" of their admission.

Many on Twitter were quick to join Smith, saying affirmative action for disadvantaged groups of students gets unfairly criticized.

People also cited cases like that of Kelley Williams-Bolar, a black mother in Ohio who went to prison for lying about her residency so that her daughters could attend school in a more well-regarded district.

In a statement, USC said it is aware of the federal investigation and that the college is "conducting an international investigation and will take employment actions as appropriate." The university also said it is reviewing its admission processes to "ensure that such actions do not occur going forward."

Olivia Jade's Instagram has been barraged with negative comments and jokes since the news broke about her mother's indictment.

On her post for Direct Smile Club, @brihende wrote, "your smile may be straight but your family is crooked." Lori Loughlin had deleted her Instagram account by Tuesday afternoon, and Olivia Jade's sister, Bella, made her account private.

On Olivia Jade's most recent post, @starsrborn wrote, "Honestly the fact that you and your sister stole spots at USC from someone who worked hard in high school is beyond disgusting."

Before Olivia Jade disabled comments on her posts, the remark received 3,840 likes.