The Shady Side Of Jake Paul

This article contains references to sexual assault.

It's safe to say that few people have experienced a career trajectory as bizarre as that of social media star Jake Paul. Name one other person in history who came to fame as YouTube personality, then enjoyed a brief stint as a Disney Channel star, before making a sharp left turn into MMA fighting, and then professional boxing. 

Yet that's precisely what Paul has done. And while the whole thing may appear to be downright ridiculous, Paul surprised everyone by proving himself a formidable foe in the ring. Billing himself as Jake "The Problem Child" Paul, since going pro in 2020, he's racked up an enviable record of nine wins (six by knockout) and just one loss. His 2024 match with boxing legend Mike Tyson began generating controversy as soon as it was announced, given that Iron Mike is 30 years older than Paul, and retired decades ago. That said, Tyson's professional record, as ancient as it may be, is far more daunting, boasting 50 wins (with 44 knockouts) and a mere six losses.

Paul has become a polarizing, controversial figure within the world of boxing — which is hardly surprising to those who remember him from his days as a YouTuber when a new scandal about him popped up seemingly every other day (Canada's National Post once described him as "a moronic menace to society"). To find out more about that aspect of the YouTuber-turned-prizefighter, keep on reading to explore the shady side of Jake Paul.

He was fired from a Disney Channel show after complaints about his raucous partying

Back in the mid-2010s, Jake Paul became one of the select few to attain celebrity via the social media platform Vine, mastering the format in eye-catching videos under 10 seconds in length. Paul capitalized on his fame by landing a role on the Disney Channel series "Bizaardvark," the first time Disney had hired a social media personality. 

He parted ways with the show the following year. "We've mutually agreed that Jake Paul will leave his role on the Disney Channel series 'Bizaardvark,'" a network spokesperson said in a statement to Variety. Interestingly, his exit from the show came days after LA's KTLA reported that the same outrageous stunts and wild partying that gained Paul so many YouTube followers had seriously irked his neighbors — who were reportedly considering launching a class-action lawsuit against him.

A few weeks later, Paul told The Hollywood Reporter that his neighbors were exaggerating. "Like, yes, we had a furniture fire get out of control in our backyard one time," he said, insisting nobody was harmed. By that point, however, his bosses at Disney had had enough, telling him they were going to begin writing him off the show. "And I was like, 'Yeah, that's fine. But it's going to look like you guys fired me,'" Paul recalled. "And they were like, 'We can say that we mutually parted ways and blah, blah, blah.' And that's the reality of the story."

Jake Paul stirred up controversy with a YouTube video about his 'virginity'

By 2018, Jake Paul may have been an emerging social media star but was still being referred to in the media as the brother of better-known YouTuber Logan Paul, who's also been a magnet for controversy over the years. That was the case when Polygon reported on Jake Paul being hit with backlash over a YouTube video he posted that bore the provocative title, "I Lost My Virginity." As the outlet pointed out, the video's title belied the fact that it didn't actually contain any explicitly sexual content — and had more to do with snowboarding than getting it on.

What was deemed to be controversial, however, was the thumbnail used to attract clicks to the video, which featured Paul laying on a bed, wearing just socks and briefs, while his appropriately attired girlfriend — in bra and thong — straddled him, his hands on her bare hips while they appeared to kiss. That thumbnail caught the attention of "DramaAlert" host Killer Keemstar, who devoted an entire video to warning parents of the children who gravitate to the videos of the Paul brothers that the content they're delivering isn't appropriate for them.

As Polygon noted, Paul later altered the thumbnail (but kept the title), with the updated version featuring him and his girlfriend, not touching and both fully clothed. Still, people were not amused, particularly given that Paul's fanbase at the time was predominantly made up of preteens. 

He used the N-word in a leaked video

It's hardly a new phenomenon, but white people obliviously performing rap songs originally created by Black artists who pepper their tracks with liberal use of the N-word has consistently proven to be problematic. Who can forget the time rap superstar Kendrick Lamar invited a white fan onstage to join him for a performance of his hit "M.A.A.D. City" — only to stop the woman in her tracks when she enthusiastically used the word multiple times, seemingly unaware of the fact that while Kendrick can say it, she probably shouldn't.

Jake Paul found himself embroiled in a similar controversy in early 2018 when TMZ obtained a video in which he showed off his hip-hop skills by rapping along with Rae Sremmurd's "Throw Sum Mo," which resulted in Paul expressing the N-word several times. Paul was rightfully excoriated on social media for his use of the word in the video, which was filmed while he was attending Coachella the previous year. As Yahoo! Finance reported, Paul was hit with a barrage of backlash, with some even calling for him to be banned from YouTube entirely.

A source — who was reportedly "connected" to Paul — told TMZ that the YouTuber wasn't racist but that he just really liked the song. That source also insisted, somewhat dubiously, that Paul had become far more mature over the course of the eight months or so when the video was shot.

He confirmed his short-lived marriage to Tana Mongeau was totally 'fake'

In the spring of 2019, Jake Paul and fellow YouTuber Tana Mongeau went public to reveal they were dating. In June, Mongeau tweeted that Paul had proposed to her, and then wrote, "I'm....... Engaged.................." Immediately, people began speculating that the whole thing was a ploy to boost their respective YouTube numbers — a rumor that only grew stronger when Paul posted a YouTube video in which he said of their relationship, "It's real, but it's also not." Paul's brother, YouTube star Logan Paul, didn't exactly shut the rumor down when he was asked about the veracity of his bro's relationship while appearing on the "KFC Radio" podcast, and responded (via People), "I don't know what's going on there, man."

Mongeau and Paul tied the knot in Las Vegas that July, with the whole thing filmed so that fans could watch via livestream — at a cost of $49.99. News subsequently emerged that there was no marriage license, so they weren't legally wed. Less than six months later, it was all over; in January 2020, Mongeau took to Instagram to announce that she and Paul were "taking a break" for the time being.

A few months after, Paul gave a May 2020 interview to ETOnline, admitting the whole thing was as bogus as everyone had assumed it was. "We all do things sometimes," he confessed. "And sometimes you end up getting fake married. So I'll leave it at that."

He was criticized for calling COVID-19 a 'hoax'

By the time Vine went belly up in 2017, Jake Paul had already conquered YouTube. By 2020, he had amassed 20 million followers on YouTube, and another 11 million-plus on TikTok. Interviewed by the Daily Beast that November, when the world was in the midst of being shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he shared his controversial views on the virus. "COVID cases are at less than 1%, and I think the disease is a hoax," he declared. After being hit with backlash, Paul complained his quote was taken out of context (in response, his Daily Beast interviewer tweeted a link to audio of the interview to prove that it wasn't).

That belief would understandably explain why he refused to abide by protocols and repeatedly held crowded parties in his Calabasas home while most people were quarantining. Those parties did not go unnoticed by Calabasas mayor Alicia Weintraub, who wrote an open letter about fines that were being instituted for not wearing masks in public — and specifically threw shade on Paul's mask-free soirees. "It's completely unacceptable to be interacting with people like that during this time," she wrote. "You can't be having parties with over 100 people."

Paul shrugged off the criticism, scoffing at the notion of social distancing to prevent the spread of a highly contagious virus. "But I personally am not the type of person who's gonna sit around and not live my life," he told Business Insider.

He was charged with trespassing at a mall while it was being looted during a riot

In May of 2020, Jake Paul stirred up controversy when he posted a video on social media, taken while he wandered through a mall in Scottsdale, Arizona, as it was being looted during a riot. As Forbes reported, those posts (which he subsequently deleted) featured footage of the chaos, with Paul allegedly describing police officers attempting to deal with the situation using "explicit and confrontational language." Once again, backlash came, leading Paul to offer an explanation of sorts in a tweet claiming that he didn't participate in any looting or violence himself. "We filmed everything we saw in an effort to share our experience and bring more attention to the anger felt in every neighborhood we traveled through; we were strictly documenting, not engaging," he wrote. 

He was subsequently charged with trespassing and unlawful assembly by the Scottsdale Police Department, under claims that he had remained in the mall after officers had declared that anyone remaining inside the mall would be considered part of an unlawful assembly. Those charges were subsequently dropped when the FBI began investigating to determine whether there was sufficient evidence for federal charges. More than a year later, however, the U.S. Attorney's Office issued a statement indicating that they'd reversed course and that Paul wouldn't be facing federal charges after all. 

However, sources then told TMZ that Scottsdale authorities would be re-filing the misdemeanor charges against him.

His home was raided by the FBI

Jake Paul's sojourn in an Arizona shopping mall in the midst of rioting and looting not only resulted in criminal charges but also landed him on the radar of the FBI. A few months later, in August 2020, FBI agents armed with a federal search warrant raided Paul's home in Calabasas, California. Those agents did not leave empty-handed, with ABC7 reporting that several firearms were seized in the raid. "The FBI is investigating allegations of criminal acts surrounding the incident at Scottsdale Fashion Square in May 2020," the bureau said in a statement, revealing that their visit to Paul's home was indeed connected to his presence at the mall. 

Paul himself confirmed that connection in a video he shared on Instagram but then deleted. "Just to clarify things and set the record straight, the FBI raid is entirely related to the Arizona looting situation that had happened," he said, as reported by Vanity Fair. "There are rumors about it having to do with so many other things that have nothing to do with me or my character and the s*** that people are making up is absolutely absurd."

As previously mentioned, the end result of the raid, and the confiscation of those weapons, was that all federal charges were dropped. At the end of the day, the whole thing may have generated numerous headlines, but ultimately didn't result in any tangible repercussions for Paul. 

He's been accused of scamming his followers

Jake Paul has launched several business ventures designed to capitalize on his popularity as a YouTuber, typically involving various ways of squeezing money out of his fans. As The Verge reported, one of these arrived in 2018: Edfluence, a now-defunct online school purporting to teach people how to become successful social media stars. "This roadmap lays out every step that I and Team 10 have taken to get to where we are today," Paul declared on the site. "It's literally the roadmap to becoming social media FAMOUS." As The Verge pointed out, users paid $7 to access the site but then needed to pay an additional $57 to go deeper. The whole thing was eventually shuttered amidst criticism that Paul was exploiting his young fans by hoodwinking them into believing they could easily become as famous as him.

Paul tried again in 2020 when he launched his Financial Freedom Movement, in which aspiring social media influencers paid $19.99 to learn his secrets about how to make money from social media. Once again, he faced backlash; a critique for Inverse described the venture as "Trump University for YouTubers" and "a spin on a pyramid scheme." 

Another gimmick that Paul cooked up was his "mystery box," in which fans ponied up money to receive a digital "box" that might contain valuable items — say, items from Louis Vuitton's collaboration with Supreme — or less-pricey items such as socks. Spoiler alert: most people got socks.

He got into a heated altercation with Zayn Malik

As Jake Paul's fame grew, it placed him in the orbit of other celebrities. Such was the case when he was in Las Vegas in February 2021, where he encountered former One Direction member Zayn Malik and his girlfriend at the time, supermodel Gigi Hadid. Some sort of altercation apparently ensued, leading Paul to issue a tweet (which he later deleted). "Almost had to clap up zane from 1 direction because he is a little guy and has an attitude and basically told me to f*** off for no reason when I was being nice to him [sic]..." he wrote, via Distractify. Paul wasn't finished, adding, "Zane ik you're reading this... stop being angry cause u came home alone to ur big a** hotel room hahaha [sic]." Paul then issued another tweet (also deleted) in which he offered more details. "Bro he literally started yelling and freaking the f*** out. 'You wanna test me mate' lol I feel bad for childhood stars [sic]," he wrote. 

Hadid dropped a scathing (and also-deleted) response. "Lol cause he doesn't care to hang w you and your embarrassing crew of YouTube groupies?" she wrote. "Home alone with his best friends like a respectful king cause he has me, sweetie. Unbothered by your irrelevant ugly a**. Go to bed ... "

When he'd sobered up, the chastened YouTuber tweeted, "Someone needs to take my phone when i'm drunk because I am a f***ng idiot."

He was sued by the feds over a cryptocurrency scheme

Several celebrities were paid big bucks to endorse cryptocurrency ventures, only to find themselves in legal trouble when those schemes were revealed to be scams. Jake Paul was among them, and it came back to bite him on the butt in February 2022 when reported that he was among the celebs who were being investigated after they were enlisted to promote a cryptocurrency called Safemoon, given that the folks in charge artificially inflated its value. 

Then, in March 2023, Paul was sued by the federal Securities and Exchange Commission over his involvement in cryptocurrencies Tronix and BitTorrent. As NPR reported, the cryptocurrency he touted was traded back and forth in a ploy to make it appear there was high trading activity when there actually wasn't, in order to give prospective investors a false sense of confidence that they weren't being conned. "This case demonstrates again the high-risk investors face when crypto asset securities are offered and sold without proper disclosure," SEC chair Gary Gensler said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Paul also engaged in an NFT venture called Stickdix, which was also alleged to be a grift. As pointed out, when all those various paydays were tallied up, Paul wound up raking in a staggering $2.2 million. He was fined by the SEC and agreed to pay $400,000. Despite the fine, when the dust settled that shady activity ultimately netted him $1.8 million.

He's been accused of sexual assault — twice

While Jake Paul's controversies often draw attention, there was nothing funny when TikTok star Justine Paradise came forward in 2021 and accused him of sexually assaulting her. Paradise made the allegations in a post she issued via YouTube, claiming that he'd forced her to perform oral sex on him in 2019; she hadn't come forward sooner, she said, because she'd signed a nondisclosure agreement. Paul responded by tweeting a lengthy statement of denial. "Not only have I never had any sexual relationship with this individual, but this claim is solely a manufactured accusation and a blatant attempt for attention during a highly visible fight week," he wrote, referencing his upcoming match against UFC fighter Ben Askren.

Days later, another woman came forward with similar accusations. Interviewed by The New York Times, Railey Lollie recalled working with Paul when she was 17, which led him to nickname her "jailbait." She claimed that he groped her until she emphatically told him to stop; she said she stopped working for him shortly thereafter. 

As Dexerto reported, when Paul was asked about Lollie's accusations by ESPN, he responded, "All these allegations, the things that are said about me, are from years ago. They're 100% false, and my legal team's following up with these people to make sure they're held accountable for the things that they're saying, 'cause they're not true and they're gonna damage my brand forever."

If you or anyone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, help is available. Visit the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network website or contact RAINN's National Helpline at 1-800-656-HOPE (4673).