Weird History

Times In History When A Carefully Built Reputation Changed In An Instant

List Rules

Vote up the biggest changes in reputations.

Because a positive societal image is so hard to earn, it seems evident that people and companies with an upstanding influence would do everything they could to uphold their social standing. 

Still, everyone makes mistakes. While a little “oops” here and there is acceptable - and even expected, this rule is often overlooked when the person or company erring is in the public eye. As social media has grown over the years, these mistakes have become even more prevalent, sometimes causing massive fallouts that damage reputations forever

Whether it's a snooty email that quickly went viral, a nasty comment that showed a person's true colors, or a massive scandal that took years to finally unfold, this list features times when a carefully built reputation changed in an instant. 

  • An X-Factor Judge Got Fired After Accusing A Contestant Of Copying Her Husband
    Photo: YouTube
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    An X-Factor Judge Got Fired After Accusing A Contestant Of Copying Her Husband

    Natalia Kills (real name Natalia Cappuccini) wasn't exactly a world-renowned singer when she created a public bullying scandal on national TV. Still, Simon Cowell had hired her as a judge for X-Factor New Zealand, a show that could have propelled her into international stardom. However, any chance of using the job to move her career forward ended when she accused a contestant of trying to steal her husband's look on-air back in 2015.

    Contestant Joe Irvine sang a rendition of Michael Bublé's “Cry Me a River” for judges and the audience during his audition. Instead of offering praise - or at least constructive criticism - Kills berated the hopeful singer, ranting about how he had copied the style of her husband, Willy Moon (real name William Sinclair). Kills tormented Irvine with hateful comments: 

    As an artist who respects creative integrity and intellectual property, I am disgusted at how much you have copied my husband… From the hair to the suit, do you not have any value or respect for originality? You’re a laughing stock. It’s cheesy, it’s disgusting - I personally found it absolutely artistically atrocious... It’s absolutely disgusting. You have no identity… I can’t stand it. I’m ashamed to be here.

    Moon, who is also in the music industry, added to the clamor: 

    It’s like Norman Bates dressing up in his mother’s clothing. It’s all a little bit creepy… 

    Kills was immediately fired from the show, and Moon's career abruptly ended. The incident outraged the public and professional singers so much that Kills even changed her name to Teddy Sinclair in hopes of reinventing herself. Years after the event, she still catches backlash on social media for her words.

  • A Bad Speech Sent A Family Company Tumbling
    Photo: Gerald.ratner / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA 4.0
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    A Bad Speech Sent A Family Company Tumbling

    Gerald Ratner was just 34 when he took over his father's jewelry business. Recognizing that many younger buyers were intimidated by the stuffiness of traditional jewelry stores, the London native chose to remodel the family business's practices by selling discount jewelry. 

    His decision proved to be a fruitful one, and Ratner soon took the industry by storm. The young entrepreneur went from owning 25 stores to controlling more than 50% of the UK's jewelry industry. It wasn't long until he had taken his business overseas, and the jewelry chain proved equally successful for US buyers. 

    However, Ratner's popularity quickly fizzled as he began making jokes about how cheap his company's product was. In 1987, he casually mentioned to a Financial Times reporter: 

    People say to me, “How can you sell this for such a low price?” And I say because it’s total crap.

    The public initially laughed off his unflattering comments, but when he quipped about his product again in 1991, the UK had fallen into recession. Not realizing the inappropriateness of jokes about making millions off a product he considered inferior at a time when people struggled to pay their electricity bills, Ratner sealed his company's demise. 

    In front of 6,000 people at London’s Royal Albert Hall, the Institute of Directors asked the jeweler to make a speech. Instead of showing gratitude for being recognized for his accomplishments, Ratner again reminded eager listeners that his company offered subpar goods:

    We even sell a pair of gold earrings for under £1, which is cheaper than a prawn sandwich from Marks & Spencer. But I have to say that the sandwich will probably last longer than the earrings.

    As soon as the news spread, customers began lining up at his stores to return their purchases. Sales plunged, and Ratner desperately hired celebrities and professional athletes to help market his product. Unfortunately for him, the damage was already done, and he was eventually fired from his own company. To make matters worse, rumors spread that Ratner was unemployable. The once abundantly wealthy jeweler lost all of his earnings and his homes, and was forced to take his children out of school.

  • A Reggae Dancehall Musician's Record Label Dropped Him After His Homophobic Comments On British TV
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    A Reggae Dancehall Musician's Record Label Dropped Him After His Homophobic Comments On British TV

    In the late 1980s and early ‘90s, Shabba Ranks ruled the reggae dancehall music scene. Even though his erotic lyrics were somewhat controversial among traditional reggae artists and listeners, he proved popular worldwide. In addition to his music, the lyricist also brought African fashion worldwide. 

    Soon, Ranks had landed an international record deal and earned two consecutive Grammys in 1992 and 1993, paving the way for future artists like Shaggy, Sean Paul, and Elephant Man. But just as he was on his way to superstardom, he made hateful comments toward the LGBTQ community, ending his career abruptly. 

    In 1992, fellow reggae dancehall musician Buju Banton released a popular song called “Boom Bye Bye.” While it was widely accepted within the genre, many fans were deeply offended by the homophobic lyrics. Since he had become the face of reggae dancehall music, fans anxiously awaited Ranks's response to the controversy. The artist broke his silence for The Word, a British TV show. Instead of calming anxieties, he only fanned the flames by remarking that Banton was: 

    …Most definitely right… if you forfeit the laws of God Almighty you deserve crucifixion.

    Soon after, Ranks's scheduled interviews with The Tonight Show and The Arsenio Hall Show were cancelled. The artist also lost his spot on tour with Bobby Brown, and his record label dropped him.

  • A Possible NFL Hall-Of-Famer Is Most Recognized For Running 66 Yards In The Wrong Direction And Scoring For The Opposing Team
    Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public domain
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    A Possible NFL Hall-Of-Famer Is Most Recognized For Running 66 Yards In The Wrong Direction And Scoring For The Opposing Team

    Minnesota Vikings' defensive lineman Jim Marshall had a stellar career, racking up 130 sacks in his 20 years in the NFL and playing 282 straight games and 270 consecutive starts. However, despite his impressive stats, the iron man is most commonly remembered for an embarrassing mistake on October 26, 1964, against the San Francisco 49ers. 

    On the fateful night, Marshall recovered a fumble and darted 66 yards toward the end zone. Unfortunately for him, it was the opposing team's goal. Marshall made it into safe territory, believed he had scored his team a touchdown, and immediately began celebrating. As he threw the ball out of bounds, scorekeepers awarded the 49ers with a safety. The Vikings still won the game 27-22, but that didn’t help Marshall escape the embarrassment of his mistake. He relayed to reporters from The Minneapolis Star that on the way home to Minnesota, 

    [My teammates]… kept telling me to get up in the cockpit and fly the plane… That way we'd end up in Hawaii instead of Minnesota.