Once best known as a professional kickboxer and struggling reality TV star, Andrew Tate has become almost impossible to avoid on social media.
He’s a topic of conversation on every major platform. Major creators have either talked about Tate or had him on their livestreams and podcasts, often in an attempt to counter his hyper-misogynistic stances on women and modern masculinity. Teacher-focused online spaces are discussing how to handle students who have been influenced by him.
Tate, 35, continues to go viral in large part due to his extreme statements: comparing women to property, graphically describing how he would assault a woman for accusing him of cheating, and claiming that men would rather date 18- and 19-year-olds over women in their mid-20s because the former have had sex with fewer men. Since they’re less experienced in dating, men can “make an imprint” on teenagers, Tate has claimed.
In a statement to NBC News, Tate described himself as a “success coach” who plays an “online character.” He added that he makes “many videos praising women,” and that his coaching involves teaching men “to avoid toxic people as a whole.” Tate said that he tells his audience to avoid “low value people,” including “toxic men.”
“It has nothing to do for hate for women,” Tate said. “It's simply about good and bad people. My mother is my hero.”
Videos on TikTok offer a sense of the deep division that Tate has caused online: Many lampoon his messages, while others parrot his talking points. TikTok videos tagged #AndrewTate have been viewed 12.7 billion times, according to the company’s hashtag page.
It’s one of the more sudden rises to fame seen on the internet, fueled by an active base of fervent supporters who gravitate to Tate’s messaging and a well-intentioned — and some might say opportunistic — movement to counter Tate’s rise while also jumping on one of the most viral topics of the moment.
Even some influencers who have been the subject of similar criticism for their influence on young men have singled Tate out. Jake Paul, the contentious YouTuber who has been criticized for making advertisement-laden videos targeting children, addressed Tate’s influence over his young audience in a recent episode of the “Impaulsive” podcast hosted by his brother, Logan Paul. The Pauls didn’t interview Tate but hinted at Jake Paul, who has pursued a boxing career in recent years, fighting Tate in an upcoming match.
But even that attention builds online momentum for Tate as a flashpoint in modern internet culture, one that some creators are refusing to encourage.
“Men like that don't want to learn. They don't even really want to debate,” creator Drew Afualo said in a video posted to her TikTok account last month. “They just want a platform to spew their venom. ... I don’t put them on my podcast. I don’t platform them whatsoever.”
When first reached for comment, Tate directed NBC News to a July 19 YouTube video titled “THE TATES ADDRESS ALL RUMOURS.” In the email, Tate denied accusations that he was misogynistic, involved in a Romanian human trafficking investigation and running a multilevel marketing scheme through his online program “Hustler’s University 2.0.”
“None of those things are true,” Tate said. “I’m getting a lot of hate and my family is at risk.”
In the video, which was an episode of the “Tate Speech” podcast, Tate and his brother, Tristan Tate, responded to accusations of sexism and misogyny.
“I can’t handle it. I can’t possibly fathom a world where there’s some fat loser on the internet who thinks that I’m a misogynist even though he gets no [expletive] and all the women love me and not him,” Andrew Tate said in a sarcastic rant during the episode. “I super care so much. I can’t even put in human words how much I care. I am a master of rhetoric. I have a grasp of the English language which is nearly unparalleled on the internet. I have the ability to make my ideas translate through space-time into the minds of other men but I cannot describe in words how much I don’t like and can’t handle being a misogynist.”
Afualo, who built a following by verbally flaying men like Tate who post videos pushing misogynistic talking points, has discussed Tate in several videos from earlier this year. In the TikTok video from last month, she addressed the “nonstop” requests for her to interview Tate on her podcast “The Comment Section.” Allowing him to use her platform, she said, would do “nothing” for her or her audience.
Creator Danisha Carter, who’s known for her videos calling out problematic behavior, commented her agreement on Afualo's video on avoiding any further discussion of Tate.
Other fan bases have pushed their creators to follow suit, and some called for an end to podcast hosts lending Tate their platform by bringing him onto their shows. The overwhelming majority of podcasts featuring Tate as a guest are hosted by men.
"these podcasts inviting andrew tate to speak (even if their intent is to embarrass him) are part of the problem btw," one Twitter user said.
Tate has been a presence in some influencer communities for several years. Formerly a professional kickboxer, he had a brief stint as a reality TV star in the 2016 cast of “Big Brother.” He was kicked off the show after The Sun published a video of Tate beating a woman with a belt, which he says was consensual.
He received further backlash in 2017 when, at the height of the #MeToo movement, he tweeted that women should “bare some responsibility” for being sexually assaulted, amid other widely criticized statements appearing to blame women for the abuse and harassment they receive. Twitter permanently suspended his account that year.
Tate, an ardent supporter of former President Donald Trump, gained a following in far-right pockets of social media and met with Donald Trump Jr. at Trump Tower in August 2017. Following his ban from Twitter, Tate made several appearances on Infowars shows and began connecting with other prominent far-right figures. “Pizzagate” conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich describes Tate and his brother, Tristan Tate, as his “friends.” Tristan Tate, who co-hosts the podcast “Tate Speech” with Andrew Tate, espouses views similar to those of his brother. On Instagram, the brothers flexed a lavish lifestyle of international travel, luxury cars and a seemingly endless supply of cigars.
While he was gaining influence in far-right circles, Tate was also accused of violence against multiple women. In an episode of “The Pomp Podcast” released this month, he openly discussed hitting a woman and breaking her jaw during a bar fight. He said he “ended up in court” after he was charged with causing “bodily harm,” but “got away with it in the end.” He said he was found innocent. In a now-deleted YouTube video, Tate said that he’s “not a ... rapist,” but “probably 40% of the reason” he relocated to Romania is because police are less likely to investigate sexual assault cases. In another video, The Guardian reported, Tate said he was investigated and held in custody for two days for allegedly abusing a woman in the U.K. He denied allegations of abuse.
The Tate brothers told the Mirror they ran a self-professed “total scam” business in Romania that used cam models — performers who typically stream sexually explicit acts via private video chat — to lure men into sending the brothers money.
The brothers’ mansion in Romania was raided in April as part of a human trafficking investigation after police received a tip about an American woman held against her will. Both Andrew and Tristan Tate were brought in for questioning, and no arrests have been made. Andrew Tate said in a YouTube video that the accusation was based on a tip from the boyfriend of a woman who attended a party at the Tates’ home. They denied allegations of any involvement in a human trafficking ring.
“My house was pranked with a false story very much the same as most people online get swatted with false police calls,” Tate said. “There was nobody in the house and no charges raised. I am totally innocent of this disgusting claim. I don’t hurt people.”
It’s not entirely clear when Tate went from a run-of-the-mill “alpha male” influencer to a viral sensation, but Google Trends data indicates that both web and YouTube searches of him began to grow in May before spiking in early July.
Tate’s current notoriety overshadows his actual online footprint. He has 4.6 million Instagram followers and 744,000 YouTube subscribers. On TikTok, where videos of him or about him are ubiquitous, videos posted from Tate’s actual account rarely go viral. The videos that garner millions of views, often featuring snippets of his incendiary comments about women or masculinity, are typically posted by fan accounts dedicated to him.
Tate’s newfound stardom coincides with a push to promote his subscription-based online course, Hustler’s University 2.0, which many people have described as a pyramid scheme. Tate’s website bills the program as “A community where me and dozens of War Room soldiers will teach YOU exactly how to make money.” Tate charges a $49 monthly subscription fee to access the program, which recommends generating additional income by referring others, and posting videos on social media to promote the course. Subscribers can make an “affiliate fee” for referrals.
Tate denied running a pyramid scheme and said that he ran an “affiliate program, same as Amazon or Spotify or anyone else.” He told NBC News that he shut down the program.
TikTok has been flooded with videos — many of which were posted by teenagers — claiming that users made thousands of dollars within weeks of subscribing to the course. One user who says he’s 16 stated that he made over $1,500 in about 2 1/2 weeks of lessons. The Hustler’s University TikTok account recently posted a video of a subscriber who claimed that after joining the course when he was 15, he made $2,000 in his first two weeks.
As paying subscribers flooded TikTok with videos of Tate, popular creators scrambled to confront him over his misogynistic statements. Instead, they provided him with a larger platform to build his profile and demean women.
During an appearance on the “BFFs” Podcast — co-hosted by Dave Portnoy, Josh Richards and Brianna LaPaglia — Tate’s insistence that men are owed their girlfriends’ OnlyFans profits because “she belongs to him” were too extreme for even Portnoy, who has been accused of sexual misconduct by multiple women (NBC News has not confirmed their accounts, and Portnoy has denied any wrongdoing).
A live debate between Tate and popular Twitch streamers xQc, Adin Ross and Trainwreck devolved into an argument over whether women should drive. Snippets of the argument went viral afterward.
Fans criticized YouTuber Noel Miller for appearing to defend Tate’s stances in a recent episode of the “Tiny Meat Gang” podcast that he co-hosts with Cody Ko, sparking further online discussion about Tate.
“Through doing this, Tate has created an army of people who are pushing his content because they’re financially motivated to do so,” TikTok creator Ben Leavitt pointed out in a video. “And this is exactly why Andrew Tate is a walking meme. He knows when he says crazy polarizing things ... that will make for amazing clips that get millions of impressions and leads to millions of dollars for his course.”
A growing faction of TikTok users have been trying to counter Tate’s increasing influence with mockery instead of earnest debate. Warped edits of Tate’s most divisive rants and videos poking fun at his rigid stances on masculinity abound on TikTok.
For creators like Afualo, though, even memes give incendiaries like Tate what they need most to maintain their influence: attention.
“If you let them shout into the void, then they’ll have no choice but to go back down in that sewer where they came from,” Afualo said in her TikTok video. “There’s no point in me talking about it, because I got bigger fish to fry.”