Have you heard that the LA Clippers are going to allow fans to smoke weed and even tobacco at the basketball team’s new arena in Inglewood, California? It’s a claim that’s gotten a lot of attention on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, in recent days. But it’s not true at all.
“ESPN sources: Clippers’ new arena, Intuit Dome, planned to have its own 21-and-over section in upper bowl that would allow fans to smoke marijuana or cigarettes,” an X account that appears to belong to ESPN reporter Adrian Wojnarowski he wrote on Friday.
The tweet has been viewed over 7.5 million times, leaving many people wondering if it’s actually real. But if you take a closer look at the account sharing this information, you’ll see why it’s completely fake.
Despite having a blue checkmark and having the same photo as the real Adrian Wojnarowski, the account includes the word “fan” in tiny letters, making it clear that it’s not the real Wojnarowski at all. The fake account, which you can see in an annotated screenshot below, also has a disclaimer that says, “ESPN Senior NBA Insider •parody troll account• NOT affiliated with @wojespn.”
But given the fact that this fake account uses the same photo as the real Wojnarowski and includes the word “fan” in such small print, it’s easy to see why some people are confused. If a user doesn’t click through to actually see the account’s profile page, it looks pretty close to the real thing.
Back then known as Twitter, the blue check mark was given to reputable accounts as a way to combat impersonation. The so-called “verification” badge was actually launched in 2009 after the baseball legend Tony La Russa filed suit against the company for imitation. But Elon Musk, the owner of X who also changed his name, scrapped the old verification system shortly after buying the company and now charges $8 for a check mark. X no longer verifies the identity of anyone wishing to pay for the service. All it means now is that a user has $8 to spend.
X has a crowd-sourced fact-checking program called Community Notes, where users can issue context or corrections on viral tweets that may be misinformed. Despite being seen by more than 7.5 million people, Community Notes has yet to issue a correction for this blatantly bad information.
California banned smoking in most public places a long time ago and was actually the first state in the country to ban smoking in all restaurants in 1995 and in all bars in 1998. But some California cities have banned smoking in sports spaces even earlier. San Diego, for example, banned all smoking in sports facilities in 1991.
Needless to say, even if a large institution wanted to reintroduce smoking in a public place, there would simply be no way around the indoor smoking laws. But it’s unlikely the Clippers would even want to do that, especially considering everything we know about the dangers of secondhand smoke, to say nothing of the toll it can take on athletes’ lungs.
The Clippers did not immediately respond to emailed questions Saturday night. I’ll update this post if I find out again. But it’s safe to assume that he’s not behind any idea being floated by a troll account on X pretending to be a reporter for ESPN.