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Joe Rogan apologizes for repeated use of ‘n-word’ on podcast; Spotify pulls 70 episodes

Another week, another Joe Rogan controversy.

Joe Rogan at the UFC 269 weigh-ins.
Joe Rogan at the UFC 269 weigh-ins.
Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images

Joe Rogan is once again under major scrutiny over the content of his ‘Joe Rogan Experience’ podcast episodes.

The UFC commentator, comedian, and controversial podcast host issued an apology video on Instagram after singer/songwriter India Arie announced she would be pulling her music and podcasts from Spotify because of Rogan’s presence on the platform. Unlike Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, both of whom removed their content from Spotify in protest of Rogan’s misinformation on the COVID-19 pandemic, Arie cited Rogan’s multiple utterances of the n-word on his podcast.

“He shouldn’t even be uttering the word,” Arie said. “Don’t even say it, under any context. Don’t say it. That’s where I stand. I have always stood there.”

Arie sharing the video compilation of Rogan using the racial slur prompted Joe’s own social media response and subsequent apology.

“I’m making this video to talk about the most regretful and shameful thing that I’ve ever had to talk about publicly,” Rogan said (via MMA Fighting). “There’s a video that’s out that’s a compilation of me saying the ‘N-word.’ It’s a video that’s made of clips taken out of context of me of 12 years of conversations of me on my podcast and it’s all smushed together and it looks f-cking horrible, even to me.

“Now, I know that to most people there is no context where a white person is ever allowed to say that word, never mind publicly on a podcast, and I agree with that now. I haven’t said it in years, but for a long time when I bring that word up, like if it would come up in conversation, instead of saying the ‘N-word,’ I would just say the word. I thought as long as it was in context, people would understand what I was doing.”

Rogan inked a $100 million distribution deal with Spotify back in 2020 and despite the firestorm of controversy and criticisms is otherwise the #1 most downloaded podcast on the streaming service. In recent weeks nearly 20% of polled Spotify users have said they’ve cancelled or will cancel their subscription.

His apology comes one day after Spotify removed 70 episodes from the platform, with a date range between 2009 and 2018. It is not known if those episodes all contained racial slur usage from Rogan or his guests, and Spotify has not directly addressed Arie’s video or Rogan’s apology.

“I can’t go back in time and change what I’ve said. I wish I could,” Rogan said. “Obviously, that’s not possible. But I do hope that this can be a teachable moment for anybody that doesn’t realize how offensive that word can be coming out of a white person’s mouth in context or out of context.

“My sincere and humble apologies. I wish there was more that I could say, but all of this is just me talking from the bottom of my heart. It makes me sick watching that video, but hopefully, at least some of you will accept this and understand where I’m coming from. My sincere, deepest apologies and much love.”

Rogan has been a regular member of the UFC’s broadcast team since 2002, calling virtually every UFC event alongside Mike Goldberg up until 2012. His workload has reduced considerably in recent years and now he only calls North America-based UFC pay-per-views. He is expected to be part of the UFC 271 broadcast in Houston next Saturday, although that’s not been officially confirmed as of yet.