The chaotic mess that was the Fyre Festival scam was exposed about four years ago and it's still something that people are so shocked actually happened. Let's give you a brief explainer about what went down (literally and figuratively) with the infamous luxury event.
Billy McFarland, business mogul and co-founder of Fyre Festival — a music festival hosted in the Bahamas that cost more than $10,000 to attend — was caught ripping people off up to millions of dollars because of its failure.
The festival that promised artists like Lil Yachty, Migos, Blink 182, and more, as well as glamorous island activities, turned out to be a total rip-off that left ticket buyers fuming with anger and demanding refunds. This trickled into a lawsuit, and ultimately, Billy was found guilty of multiple fraud charges and was sentenced to six years in prison.
Even though the manipulative businessman is currently behind bars, he's still been present on social media. Check out what Billy is up to now.
Billy McFarland is in prison right now for his crimes associated with Fyre Fest.
The unsuccessful and exploitive Fyre Festival scandal occurred in April of 2017, but Billy (whose full name is William) was arrested for his crimes associate with the festival and other fraudulent doings in late 2018. He has been serving time behind bars at the Federal Correctional Institution in Elkton, Ohio where he's set to be released on Aug. 30, 2023, according to his Federal Bureau of Prisons record.
During his time in prison, he contracted COVID-19. He talked to a New York Post reporter about his experience having the virus while locked up. "Being put in isolation in a big room with 160 other people who have it at this jail,” he told the outlet. Just a few months before he fell ill with the coronavirus, he told the New York Post that he wasn't frightened about possibly getting it. "I’m feeling fine, but it’s scary. There are a lot of older guys here and not so healthy,” he said.
Billy started a podcast while behind bars.
We don't really know or understand how that was able to even happen, but it did! Late last year — in October 2020 — Billy hopped on the 40-minute long debut episode of a podcast called Dumpster Fyre with a man named Jordan Harbinger. Jordan was able to contact Billy via phone, and they discussed what happened with Fyre Festival. Billy also directly apologized for the crimes he committed.
But his internet venture ended up landing him in solitary confinement. The New York Times stated that he was put in there because of his participation in the podcast.
His lawyer spoke with the Times: “We believe the investigation stems from his participation in the podcast and the photographs that were taken and utilized in the trailer, which were all properly taken,” McFarland’s lawyer Jason Russo told the Times. "We don’t believe he’s violated any rule or regulation, and there can’t possibly be anything else. He’s been a model prisoner there.”
An Instagram account managed by Billy's team says he's still in solitary and has been for 139 days.
His team called out the government, saying that what they're doing to Billy is "wrong and illegal" when he was allegedly just "exercising his first amendment right, for apologizing on a podcast, and for laying the groundwork to repay $26 million dollars." It's unknown whether or not Billy is going to be let out of solitary confinement any time soon.
Before the premiere of Dumpster Fyre, Billy started a program where people can donate money to help prisoners contact their loved ones. He told the New York Post more about it: "I’m launching an initiative called Project-315 to bring together and connect in-need inmates and their families who are affected by coronavirus. We’re going to pay for calls for as many incarcerated people across the country as possible.”
He understands that people might think it's all fake, but wants them to know it's definitely not. "It’s totally reasonable that people would think this is a scam. The good thing is, this isn’t for me — it’s for the families of inmates, who are suffering because of what their loved ones did,” he informed the Post.