On the Fourth of July in 2015, Ariana Grande and her boyfriend at the time, Ricky Alvarez, were caught on camera licking donuts they did not pay for at Wolfee Donuts in Lake Elsinore (Huffington Post). When the employees were not looking, the couple took turns licking the donuts on display and available to purchase. Once the employee brought a new sheet of sweets out, Grande asked “What the fuck is that?” before stating that she hates Americans and America. The singer posted an apology statement to twitter saying, “need to clean up this mouth of mine & set a better example for my babes. i apologize and i love you. always learning,” along with screenshots of notes on her phone with the official statement. In July of this year when thousands of Democratic National Convention emails were posted by WikiLeaks, it was discovered that there was an exchange of emails about the artist being vetted to perform (The Guardian). The DNC finance chair, Zachary Allen, made this request that was denied by Bobby Schmuck with a simple “Nope, sorry,” after the vetting brought her donut past to haunt her.
Grande and her PR team were very quick with the damage control of the situation. Her official statement was shared to her Twitter the day the videos were released by the media. The statement was very professional, apologetic and explanatory of her actions while the tweet it was attached to was somewhat playful as she said she needed to “clean up this mouth of mine,” recognizing her mistake while keeping it real and relatable for her fans. Huffington Post also announced that they were directly sent the statement in an update of the article: “Ariana Grande released a statement concerning her comments about hating America to The Huffington Post on Wednesday.” This past March, the singer was on double duty as the host and musical guest for NBC’s Saturday Night Live. This was where she made fun of her donut scandal by singing a song titled “What Will My Scandal Be” for her monologue, claiming she wanted a more adult scandal such as getting kicked off a plane for smoking, pimp slapping Adele, or having photos leaked from her phone.
During this SNL monologue, the former Nickelodeon star compared herself to other stars such a Justin Bieber and Miley Cyrus because the scandal she was involved in was not nearly as “adult” as theirs. She jokingly adds licking a donut to the list of scandals someone her age in Hollywood might worry about getting involved in. The list included getting pregnant as Jaime Lynn Spears did at the age of 16, leading to the cancelation of her show, also on Nickelodeon, Zoey 101 (Daily Mail). Of course, she should not have licked a donut without paying for it and it was in poor taste for her to say she hated America because she thinks people aren’t as educated about the health risks of eating poorly as they should be. With this being true, Bieber’s downfall in 2014 including drugs and his arrest, two things also listed by the singer, were a lot more serious than a 22-year-old licking a donut to be funny for her friends.
The situation Grande found herself in after licking donuts with her boyfriend was unfortunate as it was meant to be a private moment in public. She did not realize she was being recorded and believed she was not being watched. The singer saying that she hated America and Americans, though meant to be a harmless statement, was enough cause for the White House to prevent her from performing. It’s clear she means the best for Americans because what she meant (as stated in her statement) was that she hated the way Americans shamelessly eat junk food and wished there was more resources available for the country to be educated about these issues. Overall, Ariana Grande licking a donut has to be one of the most hilarious PR crises in existence. Who knew a cheeky trip to the donut shop would give a singer a bad reputation to which she can’t seem to shake.