Comedian Joe Lycett has appeared to shred £10,000 of his own money after he presented David Beckham with an ultimatum to pull out of his role as a Qatar ambassador or he would destroy the cash.
The comic set the former England footballer a deadline of midday on November 20 to take action after it was reported Beckham had signed a controversial £10 million deal with the Fifa World Cup hosts.
The contest kicks off this Sunday in Qatar – where homosexuality is still illegal and anyone found participating in same-sex sexual activity can be punished with up to seven years in prison.
Lycett offered to donate £10,000 of his own money to LGBTQ+ charities if Beckham ended the sponsorship before the tournament started, and if not he said he would livestream himself shredding the money along with Beckham’s “status as gay icon”.
Appearing to stand by his decision, the Birmingham-born comedian videoed himself on a Twitch stream wearing a rainbow-layered tulle outfit and placed wads of what appeared to be cash into an industrial shredder, but it was not clear if the banknotes were genuine money.
Lycett later shared a video of the act to his Twitter and wrote “A platform for progress”.
Prior to the stunt, Lycett had shared a video message directed at Beckham where he commended the footballer for always talking about “the power of football as a force for good”, but said Qatar is “one of the worst places in the world to be gay”.
Lycett told the footballer: “If you end your relationship with Qatar, I will donate ten grand of my own money (that’s a grand for every million you’re reportedly getting) to charities that support queer people in football.
“However, if you do not I will throw the money into a shredder at midday next Sunday, just before the opening ceremony of the World Cup and stream it right here.
“Not just the money, but also your status as gay icon will be shredded.”
Beckham is yet to publicly acknowledge or respond to the comic.
There has been a mixed response from fans of the comedian, who has appeared on a host of comedy shows over the years including Live At The Apollo, Taskmaster, 8 Out of 10 Cats, and also fronts Channel 4’s consumer rights show, Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back.
One fan tweeted: “For the people missing the point. It’s Joe’s money. If he’d have bought a watch or a car we wouldn’t have cared. The point isn’t about him shredding money, it’s about highlighting the issues with celebrities taking far greater sums from a country with an awful human rights record.”
However, others criticised the star for not donating the money to a food bank or charity rather than shredding it at a time when the cost of living is soaring.
Shredding £10k will earn @joelycett far more than it will cost him and is in effect a paid for publicity stunt which has worked. Job done. No one will think any worse of him now if he changes his mind at the last minute and donates it to a homeless shelter in time for Christmas.
— Nadine Dorries (@NadineDorries) November 20, 2022
Former culture secretary Nadine Dorries took to Twitter just hours before the stunt to urge the star to rethink.
Ms Dorries wrote: “Shredding £10k will earn Joe Lycett far more than it will cost him and is in effect a paid-for publicity stunt which has worked.
“Job done. No-one will think any worse of him now if he changes his mind at the last minute and donates it to a homeless shelter in time for Christmas.”
Another Twitter user wrote: “While I admire the point you’re trying to make, I do hope you didn’t really shred ten grand because it could’ve been used to feed so many people in need or heat their homes.”
This is not the first time Lycett has performed a public stunt having become known for unusual acts to raise awareness of various issues.
Appearing on a host of comedy shows over the years, he rose to fame from his stand-up routines where he would recall his humorous email exchanges when handling issues such as parking fines and scammers.
The comedian went on to front Channel 4’s consumer rights show, Joe Lycett’s Got Your Back, where he takes on large corporations on behalf of the consumer.
Among his other publicity stunts, Lycett stormed off the set of Steph’s Packed Lunch last year after its host, Steph McGovern, pointed out a photo of him using a plastic bottle after he claimed he had given up using them.
He later revealed the walkout was a stunt aimed at raising awareness of single-use plastics.
In March 2020, he legally changed his name to that of German luxury designer Hugo Boss after the brand used trademark claims to target small businesses and charities who use “boss” in their branding. He later changed his name back.
He also made headlines in September after he appeared to sarcastically praise former prime minister Liz Truss on the first episode of BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg following Ms Truss’s live interview in the studio earlier in the show.
Beckham and Lycett’s representatives have been contacted for comment.