Social-media phenomenon Josh Ostrovsky — better known to his millions of followers as @TheFatJewish or @FatJew — is addressing allegations that he has stolen comedians' jokes without attribution.
"The Internet is like a giant Jacuzzi, you know what I mean," Ostrovsky told TODAY's Sheinelle Jones. "There's all kinds of germs, like, we're sharing everything."
When Jones asked if that meant "all is fair," he replied, "Exactly, but if they hit me up like, 'That's my cat,' I'm gonna make it right."
After the onslaught of negative press, Ostrovsky has been adding attribution to his Instagram posts and including an email address on his own account to encourage content creators to claim credit.
That may not be enough to satisfy his critics, who have been vocal with their accusations of plagiarism and believe credit should be given from the start. Despite amassing more than 5.7 million followers on Instagram and a quarter-million followers on Twitter, Ostrovsky has been accused of repeatedly using other people's content without given them credit, and profiting off it in the process. Many established comedians — including Patton Oswalt, Michael Ian Black and Doug Stanhope — ripped Ostrovsky for his practices, but the outcry grew to a fever pitch Aug. 13, when it was revealed Ostrovsky had signed with one of Hollywood's top agencies, Creative Arts Agency.
Wearing a robe to greet Jones for his TODAY interview, Ostrovsky talked about how he chose his social-media handles of @TheFatJewish and @FatJew. "It's just a literal nickname," he told TODAY. "I mean, just look: I have a Shrek body. A mediocre body is the new amazing body."
Signing an unexpected modeling contract, he also has a book coming out this fall, and is newly married — although he does not post about his wife because she's, "like, a real human being."
A college dropout who first went viral for posting a YouTube video of himself leading a cycling class of homeless people on Citi Bikes, Ostrovsky also elaborated on how his life has changed since then.
"A couple came up to me and they were like relatively normal and they were like, 'Hey, will you sign our baby, 'and I was like, 'Uh, yeah, definitely,'" he told Jones. "I was like, 'This is kind of getting crazy.'"