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Prank gone wrong: Passenger causes plane grounding after claiming to have coronavirus symptoms

Any press is not always good press...

Image Credit: YouTube screenshot

James Potok, who is aspiring to be a famous music artist, admitted that in retrospect, his decisions were made in poor taste.

Potok managed to anger 250 passengers after pulling a stunt for fame. The 28-year-old man was on a plane headed to Jamaica and managed to gain the attention of several passengers on the flight. He then claimed that he had recently come from the Hunan province and stated: “I’m not feeling too well.”

Wuhan is the city where the coronavirus allegedly originated. The Hunan province is currently closed, and it has been reported that several cases have been documented in the United States and Canada as well.

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After flight attendants were made aware of the situation, the flight was turned around and grounded back in Ontario. Potok was then escorted off the airliner while being filmed and ridiculed.

“I was looking to get a viral video,” Potok later told Global News. “I figured it would invoke some kind of reaction, like ‘this kid’s got some balls’ or ‘this kid’s crazy,’ whatever it is.”

Potok, who has fewer than 1,000 subscribers on YouTube, just over 34,000 followers on Instagram, and 216 fans on SoundCloud, isn’t the first person to try to use a viral stunt to find fame. Performing dangerous stunts also isn’t a new concept; MTV’s Jackass designed a whole series around it.

But whereas one is a form of entertainment designed to make people laugh or gross them out while they sit at home watching TV, these types of stunts unnecessarily disrupt the days of complete strangers. Passengers on the WestJet plane can be heard in videos uploaded to Twitter calling Potok out for the stunt and complaining about their vacations being delayed, all so that he could film a video and maybe go viral. Naturally, he doesn’t see it that way.

“I’m an artist,” Potok said. “Any publicity for myself is good publicity.” [The Verge]

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This is far from the first time a dumb stunt was pulled in order to try to get more “clout.”

Honestly, that would describe the careers of many “successful” individuals on social media for the past few years. Some rappers staged their own kidnappings, purposefully crashed cars, and harassed celebrities in a public manner.

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YouTube influencer, Logan Paul infamously filmed the body of a recently deceased individual and went on to post it on his YouTube channel geared toward a younger audience.

Potok referenced a quote by saying, “Any publicity for myself is good publicity.” I never really thought of that quote as an accurate one because I feel like karma always comes back to bite. If you want to have a lasting and fruitful music career, maybe make good music. That makes a lot more sense than pissing off a plane full of people who are on en route to vacation.

This piece originally appeared on and is used by permission.

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Wayne Dupree is owner and founder of He was named to 2017 Newsmax’s 50 Most Influential African-American Republicans. He served in the USAF from 1987-1995; he saw time in Operation Desert Storm/Shield. The father of three, he's the host of "The Wayne Dupree Show."

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