Update: shortly after this article was published, Lycett posted a video saying he did not in fact shred the money, but had already donated it to LGBTQ+ charities. He called it "an empty threat to get people talking".
Joe Lycett last Sunday promised to shred £10,000 in bank notes if David Beckham failed to renounce his position as an ambassador for the controversial FIFA World Cup in Qatar on the grounds of its poor record on LGBTQ+ rights.
A video was posted over the weekend showing the comedian appearing to follow through on his promise:
“A platform for progress” pic.twitter.com/EeMelv01nu— Joe Lycett (@joelycett) November 20, 2022
The stunt has caused much debate, with some arguing that it’s immoral to destroy money that could be put to good use during the cost-of-living crisis.
Joe Lycett actually burned ten thousand pounds to make a stupid virtue-signalling point in a cost-of-living crisis, instead of donating that money to charity.— Dominique Samuels (@Dominiquetaegon) November 20, 2022
What a tool.
Joe Lycett shredding thousands of pounds - during an economic crisis in which people are *really* struggling - to have a failed dig at a millionaire isn't a great stunt, imo.— Dr Rachel Broady (@drrachelbroady) November 20, 2022
Someone shredding £10k in this current climate is absolutely vile. Doesn’t matter what the cause was, absolutely disgusting behaviour— Shaughna Phillips (@Shaughna_P) November 20, 2022
Others take the opposite view, including several comms professionals who suggested £10,000 represented good value considering the amount of publicity the stunt has received.
There’s a lot of front page upset and anger at Joe Lycett shredding £10k for publicity around Beckham and Qatar.— mark perkins (@thatmarkperkins) November 21, 2022
Every year PR agencies shred millions on crappy stunts, content and brand installations on Potters Fields without a single word being written.
If you feel uncomfortable about Joe Lycett shredding £10,000, that’s exactly the point.— Darryl Morris (@darrylmorris) November 20, 2022
It’s a statement on discomfort and money: at Qatar’s oppression of gay people and David Beckham profiting from them.
It’s performance art. It’s supposed to make you feel. #benderslikeBeckham
every newspaper will run the Joe Lycett story. do you know how much it would cost for a PR machine to get a story into every outlet?— Ava-Santina (@AvaSantina) November 20, 2022
What’s the difference?
'Joe Lycett could have donated that £10,000 to charity!!!1!!' Yeah and David Beckham could donate £10 million but he won't...— Elle Rudd (@ElleRudd_) November 20, 2022
Lycett has been known for publicity-grabbing activities in recent years.
He made national headlines earlier this year when claiming to be “very right-wing” and a big supporter of Liz Truss when appearing on Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg on the BBC.
Lycett has also taken aim at large corporations. Last year, he used a yellow bus emblazoned with a mural of a mock Shell advert captioned “We’re turning our carbon emissions green for Earth Day”, and parked it outside the company’s London headquarters. That stunt was to promote his Channel 4 show Joe Lycett vs The Oil Giant.