A TikTok prankster is facing a backlash after staging a messy stunt that splashed milk and cereal all over a crowded New York subway car.
The Metropolitan Transit Authority posted a tweet saying that the stunt created a huge mess that its workers had to clean up when they’re straining to keep subways clean and safe during the coronavirus pandemic.
“A new low: Pulling a prank on essential workers in the middle of a global pandemic. And making essential workers clean up your mess. Despicable,” the MTA’s tweet said.
In the video, Josh Popkin, who has 3.3 million followers on TikTok, pretends to accidentally spill a large plastic storage container of milk and cereal on the floor.
The other passengers scramble to avoid the mess and leave the car as Popkin tries to pick up the soggy cereal with his hands. The video ends with Popkin getting off the train leaving a huge puddle of milk behind.
The video is not dated, but the other passengers are wearing masks, which suggests it was shot during the coronavirus crisis. The video had been viewed at least 3.3 million times on TikTok, but it was no longer visible on his profile as of Friday afternoon. The video the MTA tweeted had 6.2 million views.
Some social media users called on Popkin to be arrested, kicked off of TikTok, banned from the MTA or be required to clean the trains as punishment.
An NYPD spokeswoman told CNN that the department is looking into the matter.
Popkin has posted apologies on his TikTok, Instagram and YouTube accounts, called himself an “idiot” and said he really messed up.
“I would like to apologize to the MTA, the essential workers, everyone I have affected,” he said in the YouTube video.
He said he is now feeling the consequences of his actions.
“I honestly thought it was going to be something that would make people laugh and bring joy in this serious time. Obviously, I was way off the mark,” he said. “I f***ed up, I went over the line, I made a mistake and the fact that I even thought that that was okay is ridiculous.”
The YouTube video lasts for more than five minutes and Popkin spends much of the time reading 50 angry comments people have made about him — many of which included threats of violence. That led some viewers to question his sincerity.
CNN was not able to reach Popkin for comment.
New York started closing the subway system for four hours each night earlier this month, so workers can clean due to the coronavirus. It’s the first planned nightly shutdowns in the subway’s 115-year history.
The MTA said on Tuesday that 116 of its employees have died from coronavirus.