Warning: Some entries mention body-shaming.
Sometimes, celebrity news stories seem too convenient — or too weird! — to be true. Fans often accuse certain relationships or viral moments of being publicity stunts. Occasionally, the celebs shut down those rumors, but other times, they admit that they're true.
Here are 14 times that big celeb headline news stories turned out to be PR stunts:
THE TRUTH: In 2019, Nick told Watch What Happens Live with Andy Cohen, "Let's just say this: We went to a movie. No one followed us there. Somehow, mysteriously, when we left, there were 30 photographers waiting outside. There are certain ways to play this game, and some people play it well."
THE TRUTH: Appearing on Nick's podcast, The Viall Files, in 2023, Rachel said, "No, Nick and I never dated... We were messing around, not with each other, but with the internet."
Nick added, "We were both epically single, and we wanted the attention."
They confirmed that, after Rachel appeared on his podcast in 2019, they deciding that faking a relationship would be a great way to promote The Bachelor podcast they planned to start together. However, she ultimately decided not to do the podcast, so there was no reason for their faux romance to continue.
3.THE STORY: In 2005, rumors circulated that Jay-Z was cheating on Beyoncé with his protégé Rihanna, who was a new artist at the time. The story reportedly contributed to Jay-Z and Beyoncé's year-long breakup.
THE TRUTH: In 2015, Rihanna's former publicist, Jonathan Hay, admitting to making up the rumor to promote her debut single, "Pon de Replay." He told Inside Edition, "It was all a publicity stunt... I was desperate at the time because I wanted to have a hit record."
In the unauthorized biography Becoming Beyoncé: The Untold Story, he also said, "The PR stunt that I did was out of desperation to help break 'Pon de Replay.' It was reckless, and I didn't think it was going to work. I was just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what would stick."
4.THE STORY: In 2021, the New York Post published paparazzi pictures of Grimes walking down the street and reading The Communist Manifesto after she broke up with Elon Musk.
THE TRUTH: Sharing the pictures on her Instagram, Grimes wrote, "I was really stressed when paparazzi wouldn't stop following me this wk but then I realized it was opportunity to troll .. i swear this headline omg wtf haha im dead...Anyway if paparazzi keep chasing me perhaps I will try to think of more ways to meme - suggestions welcome! [sic]"
She also wrote, "Full disclosure I’m still living with [Elon] and I am not a communist (although there are some very smart ideas in this book -but personally I’m more interested in a radical decentralized ubi that I think could potentially be achieved thru crypto and gaming but I haven’t ironed that idea out enough yet to explain it. Regardless my opinions on politics are difficult to describe because the political systems that inspire me the most have not yet been implemented). [sic]"
5.THE STORY: When Joaquin Phoenix appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman in 2009, he claimed that he was quitting acting to pursue a hip-hop career.
You can (and honestly should!) watch the entire interview below:
THE TRUTH: Both the interview and the "role" Joaquin played in the press turned out to be part of I'm Still Here, a "mockumentary" shot by his then-brother-in-law Casey Affleck. Though there was speculation, they didn't confirm it until after the movie was released.
6.THE STORY: In a 2013 video for MTV News, DJ Khaled publicly proposed to Nicki Minaj.
Here's the full video:
THE TRUTH: A few days later, Nicki told Hot 97's Funkmaster Flex that it had been a publicity stunt to promote his song "Take It to the Head," which featured her. She said, "Khaled is my brother, and Khaled was not serious with that damn proposal, ya'll. Please let it go. He was kidding. He's not attracted to me, he doesn't like me. We're brother and sister."
She also said, "I was shocked just like the rest of the world. I was cracking up laughing with the rest of the world 'cause Khaled is a master at what he does... It was just another way for him to kinda give the world a glimpse on the feeling of this record. Nobody in my real life took it seriously. Everybody just hit me like, 'LOL. Yo, Khaled is crazy.'"
7.THE STORY: At the 2009 MTV Movie Awards, Sacha Baron Cohen — who in character as his titular role from Brüno — was flying through the air on wires when he flipped the wrong way and begged to be lowered down. He landed on top of Eminem with his butt in the rapper's face.
Here's the full video:
THE TRUTH: A few days later, Eminem told Rap Radar, "Sacha called me when we were in Europe, and he had an idea to do something outrageous at the Movie Awards. I'm a big fan of his work, so I agreed to get involved with the gag."
"I'm thrilled that we pulled this off better than we rehearsed it," he added.
8.THE STORY: In 2006, Steve-O and Nicole Richie were at the center of dating rumors.
THE TRUTH: Appearing on The Howard Stern Show later that year, Steve-O said that he was fine with the fact that, since she'd just broken off her engagement, she was actually interested in dating or hooking up with him. He said, "It's, like, by far more important to me to continue going around town with the paparazzi chasing us everywhere. Because the truth is, what she wanted, was to get some media coverage that wasn't about her being fucking skinny..."
Jokingly, he added, "It was a ridiculous publicity stunt... '[I'll] run around with fucking Steve-O, and they won't be talking about how skinny I am. They'll say I've lost my goddamn mind.'"
9.THE STORY: Nicole Richie and Brody Jenner reportedly dated for about two months in 2006.
THE TRUTH: In a MySpace post Nicole made after their split, she said, "The truth is, we were never really together. We hung out, and he's a nice guy, but my heart was never in it. Anything further is just a cry for publicity." Then, in a 2007 profile on Brody, his "manager/publicist/agent/stylist" Spencer Pratt told Details magazine that the relationship had been his idea to help get his friend's name out there.
Making light of the tabloids' fixation with Nicole's weight during the '00s, Spencer claimed that he told Brody, "Here's what you're gonna do. You're gonna start dating Nicole Richie. And you're gonna get that skinny bitch to eat, all right? You are about to become The Guy Who Got Nicole Richie to Eat. Process that shit, bro. You'll be, like, a fucking hero to America."
10.THE STORY: In late 2006, The Hills costars Brody Jenner and Lauren Conrad reportedly dated and even kissed on the show.
THE TRUTH: In 2019, Brody told Entertainment Tonight, "We never actually dated. In the beginning, we had a little kind of chemistry, and we hung out, and I think it played pretty well on screen. I think that they, the producers, really wanted us to keep that going, even though we just wanted to be friends."
He continued, "But she's great. We had a great time. It was so easy to work with her. It was so easy to film scenes with her and do stuff and act like we were [together], because we really did enjoy each other's company. We really liked each other, just not in that romantic way."
When their fellow former costar Spencer Pratt appeared on Call Her Daddy in 2022, he admitted to orchestrating the fake relationship to complement his real relationship with his now-wife, Heidi Montag. He said, "I talked Brody into breaking up with Nicole Richie to fake double-date with LC."
11.THE STORY: In 2016, Tara Reid and Dean May appeared as a couple on the rocks on Marriage Boot Camp: Reality Stars.
THE TRUTH: In the penultimate episode, Tara and Dean got into an argument. He said, "We're just friends. We're not having a relationship." She replied, "I did it for you because you said, 'I just wanna make a little bit of money, and I wouldn't mind the fame.'" The counselors, Jim and Elizabeth Carroll, watched the recorded fight and confronted them about their lies in the finale.
In a confessional, Tara said, "He owes money in taxes, and he could use the money, and he wouldn't mind the fame. So I wound up doing the show for him, so he could get out of trouble."
Dean later said, "She told me she did the show because I needed the money. That's the most bullshit thing in the whole world. I did the show as a favor to her." He also revealed that he had a real girlfriend at the time.
Tara and Dean got kicked off of the show.
12.THE STORY: On The Bachelorette Season 19 finale, Hannah Brown got engaged to musician Jed Wyatt after fans watched them fall in love.
THE TRUTH: While the season was airing, Haley Stevens — another musician who alleged that she was dating Jed before he went on the show — told People, "He told me [the show] was just an obstacle and we'd be stronger on the other side because of it... He told me [early on] that he had applied. He said, 'It's probably not going to happen, but it's a huge opportunity. I'm only doing this for my music.' He only did it for his career."
She said, "He was always so reassuring. He told me, it's not real. It's acting... He called me when he landed in LA [for filming]. He said, 'I love you, and I'll call you when I get back.'"
However, she said that, after he returned home to Nashville, he didn't call her, and after she phoned him to confront him, they never spoke again.
Between filming the proposal and the live special After the Final Rose, Hannah confronted Jed about Haley's interview. During AFR, she confirmed that they'd called off the engagement.
You can watch the full clip of Hannah confronting Jed about his alleged secret relationship below:
THE TRUTH: Three months later, Jake admitted that their marriage wasn't legit. He told the New York Times, "We're not even actually dating. It's like the WWE. People know that's fake, and it's one of the biggest things of entertainment."
However, they reportedly ending up dating for real, but they broke up in late 2018.
THE TRUTH: Two weeks later, Tana revealed in a vlog that they weren't legally married. A few months after their split, Jake confirmed it had been a publicity stunt, telling Entertainment Tonight, "We all do things sometimes. And sometimes you end up getting fake married."
"So I'll leave it at that," he said.