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It's been a weird time to have a last name like "Corona." Just ask Joao Corona.
The 24-year-old who lives in London has always gotten comments about his last name due to the Mexican beer brand — but when the novel coronavirus pandemic hit, it got even worse.
"I made some jokes about it being terrible PR for me and things like that," he told BuzzFeed News. As the situation worsened, he said, it became less funny.
It's also created a problem online. Corona is a regular player of League of Legends, an online action-strategy game published by Riot Games. He's been playing since 2014, when he started with the username "Squid Corona."
At the beginning of last year, he managed to snag the username "Corona," but when he tried to log in on April 1, he got a message saying he'd need to change it.
"I got greeted with a message saying that if I wanted to carry on playing, I’d have to change my name in the game," he said.
"I just thought, This is a funny thing that’s happening but I’m sure if I emailed the support team they’d be like, 'haha' and change it. I was assuming it would just be very simple, like it was an automatic thing."
Turns out, not so much. A support worker replied to Corona and agreed it was a weird situation, but they suggested Corona simply comply. Corona pushed back. After some back-and-forth, he was told that the support team simply could not whitelist his username.
He even asked them if they'd ban "pig" or "swine" from usernames during a swine flu outbreak, which prompted a "snarky" reply.
"In my head, it was quite common sense that I should be able to keep my name," Corona said.
He's dug in, though, and so far he hasn't changed his username.
"I’m not going to change my name simply out of principle because you guys are in the wrong now," he said.
He posted his story and conversation with the support team to Reddit, where people were quick to point out that other players get away with much more inappropriate usernames in the game.
"They let me get away with anus dominator lmao," said one person.
"I have one of the few variations of Jehovah’s Thiccness, and no issues in like, a year with it," said another.
Others reported seeing racist and violent usernames on a regular basis.
It was also pointed out that "corona" is also simply a word. In Spanish, it means "crown" (again, hence the beer logo), and Corona even plays on a European server.
"I think in principle I understand why some people might be upset at this, but I think it’s a bit ridiculous if you try to control every variable that might make someone upset," said Corona.
"I just think it’s a bit silly."
When approached for comment, Riot Games referred BuzzFeed News to a Reddit comment from the game developer, which stated, "We don’t think forcing a name change in this instance is in line with our policies, so we’ll be looking into this situation."