Twitter has started getting rid of legacy blue checks for those who don’t pay up. Well, unless you’re LeBron James and a couple of other celebrities.
The Verge has confirmed that an employee at Twitter recently emailed James, who has previously said he wouldn’t pay for verification, to “extend a complimentary subscription to Twitter Blue for your account, @kingjames, on behalf of Elon Musk.”
We contacted James’ longtime media advisor, Adam Mendelsohn, who confirmed that James hasn’t paid to be verified. However, after we first published this information, Musk said that he’s paying “a few” subscriptions “personally,” including for the accounts belonging to Stephen King and William Shatner.
James has perhaps been the most famous hater of paid verification on Twitter, insisting that, like Martin Lawrence’s TV show character, “I ain’t paying the $5.” But if you check his profile, he still has a verified badge. Once you hover over the badge, it says that “this account is verified because they are subscribed to Twitter Blue and verified their phone number.”
Stephen King, who is partially responsible for Twitter Blue not costing $20 per month, earlier said that he hasn’t subscribed to Twitter Blue or given the company his phone number. Later on Thursday, Musk posted a snarky tweet indicating that he’s covering King’s subscription.
When reached for comment, Twitter’s press email replied with a poop emoji, which it has been doing for weeks.
Update April 20th, 6:05PM ET: Added details about Elon Musk offering LeBron James a complimentary Twitter Blue subscription.
Update April 20th, 6:13PM ET: Added confirmation from Musk that he is paying for “a few” Twitter Blue subscriptions.
Update April 20th, 6:46PM ET: Added tweet from Musk to Stephen King.
Update April 20th, 11:30PM ET: Added confirmation from Musk that he’s also paying to verify William Shatner and removed references to the rapper Ice-T.