The Worst Apologies Celebrities Have Made Publicly

Delivering an apology — even a public one to own up for notorious or harmful mistakes — should be easy, but some famous people had a hard time getting out of their own way or getting the words right. Saying "I'm sorry" to the whole world for a transgression for which there's no plausible denial should ideally consist of an expression of guilt and remorse along with the perpetrator clearly and verbally taking full blame. But some famous people, accused of or caught outright doing an awful or illegal thing, will treat an apology like it's their turn to speak in a conversation. They'll issue a statement to the media, or make an Instagram post or YouTube video that explains why they did what they did — but not quite owning up to a mistake or making it clear that they feel bad or learned anything from the experience.

Celebrities sometimes have to humble themselves and demonstrate regret — like these musicians who were forced to apologize to fans. Here are some more prominent famous people who erred and then had no choice but to issue a public apology — and then made things even worse for themselves.

Louis C.K.

On November 9, 2017, The New York Times published five women's detailed allegations of sexual misconduct by comedian and actor Louis C.K. Among other incidents, C.K. reportedly coerced young female comedians into watching him perform a sexual act upon himself. Within a day, C.K.'s career was effectively shut down. "I Love You, Daddy," a film the comedian co-wrote and directed — and which included a scene of a character doing one of the egregious acts of which C.K. was accused — saw its theatrical release canceled. FX, the cable home of C.K.'s Emmy-winning "Louie," broke off employment with the comic.

C.K. then issued a statement to media outlets. While he admitted to doing the things multiple women said he did, the piece devolved into an exercise in self-loathing. "I have been remorseful of my actions. And I've tried to learn from them. And run from them. Now I'm aware of the extent of the impact of my actions. I learned yesterday the extent to which I left these women who admired me feeling badly about themselves and cautious around other men who would never have put them in that position," C.K. wrote (via CNN). "I will now step back and take a long time to listen." At no point in the 450-word statement did the comedian actually say that he was sorry.

Demi Lovato

Pop singer Demi Lovato has publicly spoken out about her history with disordered eating, and in April 2021, she thought she was calling out a Los Angeles frozen yogurt parlor for contributing to toxic dieting culture. But she was wrong, and she initially refused to accept that. "Finding it extremely hard to order froyo from @thebiggchillofficial when you have to walk past tons of sugar free cookies/other diet foods before you get to the counter. Do better please," Lovato said in a since-deleted Instagram Story (via Refinery29) bearing the hashtag #DietCultureVultures. In its defense, The Bigg Chill explained on its own Instagram that it sold sugar-free, gluten-free, and plant-based products to serve customers with dietary restrictions — like diabetics, people with Celiac disease, and vegans, respectively.

The shop also reached out to explain things to Lovato privately, and the singer posted to Instagram screencaps of the messages. Lovato continued to attack the small business, categorizing her outing as "triggering and awful." Lovato ultimately made an eight-minute Instagram video in which she admitted that she might have behaved improperly. "I'm genuinely sorry that people took it the wrong way," Lovato said. "I just get really passionate." She also offered to help The Bigg Chill work on their marketing methods to ensure that nobody else took offense in the future.

If you need help with an eating disorder, or know someone who does, help is available. Visit the National Eating Disorders Association website or contact NEDA's Live Helpline at 1-800-931-2237. You can also receive 24/7 Crisis Support via text (send NEDA to 741-741).

Mario Batali

He ran a restaurant empire and starred on multiple Food Network shows and ABC's "The Chew," but it all went away for Mario Batali in December 2017 when four women accused the chef of sexual misconduct. Within days of the allegations surfacing, Batali was off "The Chew" and he voluntarily left his restaurant group.

Batali apologized via a statement to Eater. "I apologize to the people I have mistreated and hurt," he said. "I take full responsibility and am deeply sorry for any pain, humiliation, or discomfort I have caused to my peers, employees, customers, friends and family." It was a direct and clear apology, but Batali kept going. Days later, he sent an installment of his email newsletter, where he again addressed his actions. "I have made many mistakes and I am so very sorry that I have disappointed my friends, my family, my fans and my team," Barali wrote. It probably wasn't the right time to pivot to an on-brand message, but that's what Batali did — and he attached a recipe, too. "Sharing the joys of Italian food, tradition and hospitality with all of you, each week, is an honor and privilege," Batali continued (via Time). "In case you're searching for a holiday-inspired breakfast, these Pizza Dough Cinnamon Rolls are a fan favorite."

Kevin Spacey

The #MeToo movement upended Hollywood in 2017 as victims of sexual misconduct publicly called out their powerful perpetrators. Two-time Academy Award-winning actor Kevin Spacey faced more than 20 such allegations, and the first to make an accusation was actor Anthony Rapp. He alleged that in 1986, when he was 14 and Spacey was 26, the elder actor invited the teenager to a party at his home, where he aggressively tried to initiate a sexual encounter.

In response to Rapp's story, Spacey issued a statement via X, formerly known as Twitter. The actor attempted to absolve himself of guilt by claiming ignorance of the events in question while also blaming alcohol and issuing merely a hypothetical apology. "I honestly do not remember the encounter, it would have been over 30 years ago. But if I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior."

Spacey used the remainder of the statement to publicly come out, which didn't really have anything to do with sexual assault charges. "I choose now to live as a gay man. I want to deal with this honestly and openly and that starts with examining my own behavior," he wrote, as if to garner sympathy or reduce public scorn.


During his set at the 2021 Rolling Loud Festival, DaBaby tried to get the crowd to hoist their lit-up phone screens — with some unprovoked commentary on LGBTQ individuals and communicable infections. "If you didn't show up today with HIV, AIDS, or any of them deadly sexually transmitted diseases that'll make you die in two to three weeks, then put your cellphone lighter up," DaBaby called out, according to Billboard. "Fellas, if you ain't sucking d*** in the parking lot, put your cellphone lighter up."

DaBaby defended his comments in a self-deleting Instagram Story, claiming his remarks were taken out of context. He went on to say that he was only disparaging a certain segment of the LGBTQ population, which didn't include his fans. "My gay fans, they take care of themselves. They ain't no nasty gay n*****. See what I'm saying?" he asked rhetorically. "They got class. They ain't sucking no d*** in no parking lot."

And one day after that, the rapper issued a semi-apology on X, formerly known as Twitter — as he never meant to upset. "Anybody who done ever been affected by AIDS/HIV y'all got the right to be upset, what I said was insensitive even though I have no intentions on offending anybody. So my apologies," he wrote (via Billboard). Then the rapper, who'd rank among musicians dropped by brands following huge controversy, tweeted again, claiming victimhood over being misinterpreted: "I told you y'all digested that wrong."

Will Smith

The 2022 Oscars added to the tragic real-life story of Chris Rock. Before announcing the winner of the Best Documentary Feature award, presenter Rock joked about audience member Jada Pinkett Smith. "'G.I. Jane 2', can't wait to see it!" Rock quipped, alluding to the shaven-head title character of a 1997 movie. An annoyed Smith rolled her eyes, and her husband, Will Smith, laughed. Then, in one of the most controversial Oscars moments of all time, Will Smith walked up to the stage and slapped Rock.

"Will Smith just smacked the s*** out of me," Rock said. From his seat, Smith yelled, "Keep my wife's name out your f****** mouth!" Rock told Smith to relax; Smith repeated his command. "That was the greatest night in the history of television," Rock added.

Minutes later, Smith returned to the stage — because he won the Academy Award for Best Actor for "King Richard." Amidst praise for his co-stars, a tearful Smith expressed regret. "I want to apologize to the Academy, I want to apologize to all my fellow nominees," he said (per the AP), notably not mentioning Rock. Then Smith compared himself to his character, the father of tennis champs Serena and Venus Williams. "I look like the crazy father just like they said about Richard Williams. But love will make you do crazy things."

The next day, Smith posted a statement on Instagram. "I would like to publicly apologize to you, Chris. I was out of line and I was wrong."

Paula Deen

In addition to her Food Network programs, Paula Deen operated multiple restaurants in Georgia. A former manager of one sued Deen for discrimination in 2013, alleging that racially insensitive remarks were the norm. During her deposition, Deen admitted to using the N-word as well as making other racially charged statements. Food Network opted to not renew Deen's contract, companies with whom Deen had endorsement deals ended their associations, and the cook went on NBC's "Today" to perform damage control.

"I believe that every creature on this earth, every one of God's creatures, was created equal. No matter who you choose to go to bed at night with, no matter what church you go to pray, I believe that everyone should be treated equal. And that's the way I was raised and that's the way I live my life," Deen said, explaining that to the best of her recollection, and contrary to what she'd stated under oath, she'd really only used the N-word once, 30 years prior and during an armed robbery attempt.

Not only did she never fully apologize, Deen then claimed that she'd also been victimized by insensitive language. "It's very distressing for me to go into my kitchens and hear what these young people are calling each other," Deen said. "It's very distressing for me. I think for this problem to be worked on, that these young people are gonna have to take control and start showing respect for each other."

Colleen Ballinger

As the character Miranda Sings, a comically delusional and talentless wannabe pop star, Colleen Ballinger attracted 10 million YouTube subscribers, wrote two popular books, headlined a live tour, and landed the Netflix sitcom "Haters Back Off." Ballinger's status as one of the first and biggest-ever YouTube stars came under threat after allegations that the comedian had behaved inappropriately with minors. She'd allegedly sent sexually explicit communications to multiple teenage boys and shipped one of them her underwear. She apologized for the latter in a 2020 YouTube video, but in 2023, more people came forward reporting similar untoward communications. Around the same time, Ballinger was also accused of making racist comments on the set of "Haters Back Off," while an old video of the performer in near-blackface resurfaced.

The YouTube star tried to address everything all at once, with a YouTube video. The clip — titled "hi." — consisted of Ballinger singing a rambling song while accompanying herself on the ukulele. Over the course of the 10-minute clip, Ballinger sings her denial and laments the end of her career, dismissing claims that she's a "predator" and a "groomer" and labeling the charges against her to be "lies and rumors." It wasn't really an apology, just more YouTube content.

Alec Baldwin

Among Alec Baldwin's biggest tragedies: In 2001, Kim Basinger filed for divorce from the actor. Over the next six years, the two fought over custody of their daughter, Ireland, and in April 2007 a voicemail of Baldwin unleashing a profanity-filled tirade at his then 11-year-old child was heard in a Los Angeles court. As a result, a judge temporarily suspended Baldwin's visitation rights — and then the voicemail was surreptitiously released to celebrity news organization TMZ. Upset that his daughter failed to answer her phone for a scheduled call, Baldwin was captured in a very angry state. "You are a rude, thoughtless little pig, okay?" Baldwin said (via CNN). "And I'm going to straighten your a** out when I see you."

Baldwin's spokesperson then released a statement not of apology but blame, suggesting that Basinger or her lawyers sent the recording to TMZ. A couple of weeks after that, Baldwin addressed the issue on ABC's "The View." "Obviously, calling your child a pig or anything else is improper and inappropriate, and I apologize to my daughter for that," Baldwin said, per ABCNews. He then brought back the vitriol, this time for those who distributed his bad moment caught on tape. "People in the tabloid media are themselves people who are abused and are people who are living with shameful secrets. They make it their career to humiliate you and expose your secrets."

Shia LaBeouf

Actor and filmmaker Shia LaBeouf, who has been arrested many times, made his short "" available online in late 2013. Numerous internet writers pointed out that it lifted liberally from "Justin M. Damiano," a graphic novella by Daniel Clowes. For example, LeBeouf's film starts with a monologue taken word-for-word from Clowes' comic then segues into a conversation between two movie critics — as did "Justin M. Damiano" — with much of the same dialogue used. The rest of the film features narration taken unchanged from Clowes' work.

In other words, it was plagiarized, and LaBeouf acknowledged that on X, formerly known as Twitter. "In my excitement and naiveté as an amateur filmmaker, I got lost in the creative process and neglected to follow proper accreditation," he wrote. "Copying isn't particularly creative work. Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work," LaBeouf added

In apologizing for the plagiarism, LaBeouf looks to have plagiarized again. X/Twitter user Andrew Hake pointed out that LeBeouf's words came directly from a 2009 post on Yahoo! Answers. In a conversation about plagiarism, a member named Lili wrote (via Wired), "Merely copying isn't particularly creative work, though it's useful as training and practice," she wrote. "Being inspired by someone else's idea to produce something new and different IS creative work."

Doja Cat

Rapper Doja Cat's career took off in 2018 with the release of her debut studio album "Amala" and the cow-themed single and video "Mooo!" becoming one of the most memed pieces of media of the year. In August 2018, Doja Cat got on X, formerly known as Twitter, and composed a meandering post admitting to her prodigious, teenage use of the F-slur that refers to members of the LGBTQ community. "I called a couple people f*****s when I was in high school in 2015 does this mean I don't deserve support? I've said f***** roughly like 15 thousand times in my life," the rapper wrote (via BuzzFeed News). "Does saying f***** mean you hate gay people? Do I hate gay people? I don't think I hate gay people. Gay is ok."

The backlash for the rising star, and her out-of-nowhere, pre-emptive remorseless apology, was swift. "How can you be so ignorant?" tweeted actor Debra Messing. "Doja Cat really apologized for saying f*****" by saying it 18338 more times within the apology tweet," wrote user @taenrih." Doja Cat bungled the apology for her apology, writing (and then deleting) a post claiming to not be a "roll [sic] model," then penning another more direct mea culpa. "I truly apologize to anyone that I've offended or deeply hurt with my words," the rapper tweeted (and then deleted).