English punk rock icon John Lydon -- a.k.a. Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols -- quit in the middle of a reality TV show on Thursday, saying it was the only way he could save himself from the anarchist’s worst nightmare: winning.
Lydon, 47, who helped launch the punk movement in the 1970s by proclaiming he was the anti-Christ, walked off the set of “I’m a Celebrity...Get Me Out of Here,” where he was the most colourful of a group of C-list celebrities stuck in the Australian jungle.
“Lets face it, I won this thing on the first day,” he said. “That’s not what I came here for, I said that right from the start.
“And I don’t want to turn into Des O’Connor,” he added, referring to a popular British TV show host.
A day earlier the station ITV was forced to apologize when Lydon delivered a profanity-laced tirade on live television.
An ITV spokeswoman said Lydon had been “fantastic entertainment on the show” and that viewers and fellow celebrities had found him to be an endearing, eccentric and sensitive character.
“We respect his decision to quit and hope we haven’t seen the last of him,” she said.
Lydon had been the bookmakers’ favorite to win the show, in which viewers vote off one contestant a day.
Other contestants include a topless model, a convicted fraudster and the estranged wife of football hero George Best.
“I’m a Celebrity...” has been a big hit with British viewers, pulling in a nightly audience of around 10 million people, according to unofficial figures.