Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres found herself embroiled in an Olympic-sized controversy after her show’s official Twitter account posted a joke about Jamaican sprinter Usain Bolt’s gold medal performance in the 100 meter race on Sunday night. The tweet contained a photo from Bolt’s race that went viral, in which he’s leading his competitors by a large margin, Photoshopped to include an image of DeGeneres so that it looks like she’s getting a piggy-back ride from the world’s fastest man. The pic was accompanied by a line that read, “This is how I’m running errands from now on. #Rio2016”
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 15, 2016
The tweet immediately ignited and online debate with some suggesting that the sentiment was racist, including one tweet that read, “so the first thing that pops in your head when looking at this pic is ‘oh let me jump onto his back like he’s a common mule’?” Others quickly jumped to her defense. One woman on wrote on Twitter that “If Usain was white, y’all wouldn’t care. We all know Ellen isn’t racist & didn’t mean any harm by that. Stop it ????”
On Tuesday, DeGeneres, who is friends with Bolt and has hosted him as a guest on her show, responded to the controversy. “I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country,” she said about the accusations against her. “It is the furthest thing from who I am.”
I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country. It is the furthest thing from who I am.
— Ellen DeGeneres (@TheEllenShow) August 16, 2016
In a subsequent tweet, DeGeneres posted a video clip of what she described as a “favorite” moment from Bolt’s visit to her show last year. As of this writing, DeGeneres’ original tweet has not been removed and, as of this writing, it’s amassed more than 25,000 retweets and more than 62,000 likes.
Read the full story at CNN.