The Juiciest (Alleged) Cheating Scandals Of 2022

It was a wild year for cheating of all kinds.

Adam Levine

The votes are in, and by a wide margin, the day that the Adam Levine sexting scandal broke was the best day on the internet in 2022. The screenshots of Levine’s alleged sexts were the talk of the town in part for their goofiness — it was a comfort and a delight to have a collective laugh at how absurd these sexts were specifically — but also for how ridiculous sexting is in general. There are no objectively good sexts, only less bad sexts. The best you can find are sexts that are hot in the moment and in context but become laughably ridiculous the minute they are shown to an audience. It’s unfortunate Levine had to be publicly shamed for his apparent indiscretions, but we finally got the sexting discourse we’ve been looking for. —Elamin Abdelmahmoud

The Try Guys

I’ve never seen thousands of people latch onto a hitherto unfamiliar concept the way they did with the Try Guys in September. Unfortunately for the Try Guys, BuzzFeed alums who made their name with videos about trying stuff (literally), their fame rocketed in a somewhat dishonorable fashion. (Disclosure: BuzzFeed Inc. has a financial stake in their company, 2nd Try LLC.) One of the crew, Ned Fulmer, left after photos of him kissing a colleague leaked online. This wouldn’t have been such a big deal, perhaps, except that Fulmer’s wife, Ariel, was a significant figure in the group’s content and the Fulmers had turned their romance into marketable content. Fans were outraged. The remaining Try Guys swiftly worked to handle the fallout, editing Fulmer out of forthcoming videos. The incident yielded all the internet’s favorite hallmarks of scandal: a Notes app apology (“I lost focus and had a consensual workplace relationship,” Ned wrote); a professional breakup (Fulmer and the Try Guys parted ways); and an Instagram plea for privacy (Ariel’s). It also heralded the end of the Wife Guy era, which…phew.

What made this online drama sticky was its real-time unfolding on social media. As rumors circulated, people who had never even heard of a Try Guy before noticed a flood of breathless, gossipy tweets and TikToks, then logged into obscure subreddits, hungry for background context and new updates. It seems unlikely that kind of online unity will happen again soon, which is too bad for all the actual world problems we’re ignoring while we fixate on juicy minutiae about niche internet celebrities. —Estelle Tang

Ime Udoka

As the NBA season approached this fall, Ime Udoka was widely considered one of the best coaches in the league, a master motivator and keen strategist. Last season, in his first year on the job, he guided the young Boston Celtics to the NBA Finals, pushing the dynastic Golden State Warriors to the limit — it took every ounce of Steph Curry’s brilliance to keep Udoka’s squad from winning the title. With the aging Warriors facing an inevitable decline, Udoka seemed to be cultivating the sport’s next juggernaut with a talented team of rising stars on the precipice of greatness, ready to make the final leap to the pantheon of basketball immortality. Then, three weeks before this season’s first game, it all came crashing down, suddenly and mortifyingly. Udoka had cheated on his partner, the beloved actor Nia Long, with a subordinate at work. The Celtics suspended him indefinitely. Udoka released a statement to ESPN as soon as the initial news broke apologizing to the “players, fans, the entire Celtics organization, and [his] family for letting them down.” He and Long have since broken up. And if all that weren’t bad enough for Udoka, evidence has emerged that maybe he wasn’t as essential to the team’s success as it once seemed: A quarter of the way into this season, the Celtics and their replacement coach have the best record in the league. —Albert Samaha

Chess cheating allegations

One of the more unexpected cheating disputes this year came from the world of chess, which has exploded in popularity since the pandemic began. In September, 19-year-old Hans Niemann won a game against 32-year-old world champion Magnus Carlsen at the Sinquefield Cup, a tournament in St. Louis with a $350,000 purse. Carlsen quit the tournament the next day and suggested in a tweet that Niemann, who already has a reputation as an obnoxious player, had cheated. (A joke about Niemann using vibrating anal beads to get signals about what moves to make quickly spread on social media. You can read more about this here.)

Niemann confessed to cheating in online games on Chess.com when he was 12 and again at 16, but never during an in-person match and not during the Sinquefield Cup, where he eventually placed sixth in the final standings. Observers were dubious of his performance. The teen had recently won a game against Carlsen a few weeks earlier at the FTX Crypto Cup, but lost his next three games to the champion, who eventually won the tournament (Niemann placed 17th). Chess.com removed Niemann from the platform, and in October it released a report accusing him of cheating in more than 100 games on the site. But there’s another element complicating this feud: Skeptics point out that in August, Chess.com had offered to buy Carlsen’s online chess company Play Magnus (in which he has a 9% stake) for $82.9 million and thus has an interest in protecting the World Chess Champion’s reputation in the game (the deal has yet to clear regulatory approval). Chess.com denied this in an article in the New York Times. Niemann’s supporters also said there is simply no evidence he cheated at Sinquefield. In October, he filed a defamation lawsuit against Carlsen, Play Magnus, Chess.com and one of its executives, and Hikaru Nakamura (a top player accused of bolstering the cheating accusation), seeking $100 million in damages. There’s a lot that remains to be settled, but the controversy raises provocative questions about how a self-professed cheater can find redemption, and how the world’s best chess player decided to voice concerns about his younger opponent. —Venessa Wong

T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach

It’s the fourth-quarter celebrity cheating scandal that rocked social media. GMA3 morning hosts, T.J. Holmes and Amy Robach, were captured by the Daily Mail in November holding hands, snuggling, and giving supportive butt pats. Standard stuff, were it not for the fact that they are legally married to other people. In the immediate aftermath, amateur social media sleuths unearthed clips of the pair gushing about each other on TV. The day after the news broke, Holmes and Robach appeared on air and Holmes joked that he wished Friday would never end. Now ABC has apparently benched them as it conducts an internal review amid rumors that there may have been more than one workplace affair. The Morning Show could never. —Tomi Obaro

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