James Potok, also known as the 28-year-old coronavirus plane prank guy, has issued a video apology on his YouTube channel. In the video, posted on Wednesday, February 5, he talks about the incident, which caused the entire WestJet flight to turn back to Toronto after almost reaching its destination of Jamaica. And he says that while he realizes he created the chaos, he insists it was a case of a "joke" going "over people's heads."
Potok, an aspiring rapper from Vaughan, ON made headlines this week when his apparent implication that he may have contracted coronavirus caused panic in a time of heightened tensions surrounding the illness.
According to Potok, the plane was 30 minutes from its destination of Montego Bay.
As reported by the Toronto Star, he himself admitted after the incident that the "joke" was in an effort to go viral and become famous.
On Wednesday, he issued a nearly five-minute apology video on his POTOK Philippe YouTube channel, reading from a notebook and looking down at the camera.
The footage has already reached more than 5,000 views.
"Hello, my name is James Potok, also known as POTOK Phillippe. I am the person that on the WestJet flight to Jamaica, suddenly stood up in the aircraft, turned my phone camera on, and decided to make a video of my arrival in Jamaica," he begins.
"Unfortunately, in order to start this video, I reached for an attention-grabbing word that would get the attention of the people around me in the very back seats of the plane," he continues.
"Hunan, China, came to mind and I jokingly said 'I just visited there, I don't feel well.' The stewardess came to me and asked me to put on masks and gloves and follow her to another seat. I told her I was just kidding, I have never been to China. They told me it was too late and they had to follow their protocol."
He then explains that, apparently, he was actually making what seems to be a bizarre joke about Chinese food.
"The joke that I made was supposed to be taken as I had visited a Chinese restaurant in Hunan, not Wuhan. When I said I was sick, it was supposed to be interpreted as me not feeling well from eating Chinese food," claims Potok.
He made pains to emphasize that he did not explicitly mention coronavirus. "I simply stated that I had visited Hunan province. The joke was supposed to be about the Chinese food, we have a restaurant here in Toronto, and I think it went over people's heads," he says.
Upon arriving in Toronto, police and paramedics were waiting for passengers. Peel Regional Police arrested Potok and charged him with mischief and breach of recognizance, according to Global News.
In the video, Potok did also take time to apologize to the people on the flight who missed important meetings and weddings.
Under the video, Potok's caption reads: "If you can all find it in you to forgive me feel free to check out my music, you can stream my content on all platforms and subscribe to stay up to date on content I create in the future."
It remains to be seen whether the public will take him up on that offer.
Potok has a court date set for March 9, 2020.