A viral video of a man berating shoppers in a grocery store parking lot for using food stamps and buying lottery tickets was staged, the video's creator says.
"I'm a comedian and I do skits about situations that bother me," J.J. McGuire, the video's creator, told The Huffington Post.
In the video, McGuire confronts three people for buying groceries with a food stamp card, then using cash for lottery tickets. They tell him to mind his own business.
"It IS my fucking business, I pay taxes!" McGuire says. Then, incredibly, he gets out of his car and grabs a steak from their shopping cart, saying steak is for taxpayers.
The video's been watched millions of times since McGuire published it on his Facebook comedy page, The Philly Offensive, in November. This week it got attention from the likes of LiveLeak.com, WorldStarHipHop.com, AddictingInfo.com and a spate of others.
Many of the people posting and commenting on the video don't seem to think the folks in the video are acting. McGuire said the participants had driven to Philadelphia from Delaware to be in the video after he put a callout on Facebook. The word "satire" is the header of his original post, and the YouTube title is "STAGED COMEDY!!!!!! ALL PARTICPANTS ARE ACTORS!!!!!!!!! welfare fraud." But McGuire can't control the labeling on the numerous re-posts from others.
A lot of commenters approve of what McGuire pretended to do in the video, and a lot of them don't.
"I've been getting countless death threats," McGuire said.
McGuire, 39, said he works in construction and produces videos on the side. Some of his videos feature a recurring "junkie neighbor" character who wears fake teeth, and the staging is less obvious in some videos than in others. He said he made the food stamp video after actually seeing a woman buy lottery tickets with cash right after she'd used food stamps for food.
Disdain for the shopping habits of people on food stamps, formally known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, has been a mainstay of conservative politics for decades. Republican lawmakers in recent years have proposed limiting what kinds of food can be bought with SNAP benefits, which currently can be redeemed for any type of food except alcohol or hot meals.