Chris ‘Hey Homeauxs’ Ivey Has Threatened to Sue Us. We’d Like You to Know Why
Earlier this month we ran a story about a University of Alabama fan who was selling t-shirts that we found to be offensive and homophobic. The shirts, pictured here, read “HEY HOMEAUXS – WE JUST BEAT THE HELL OUT OF YOU.” As one of the most widely read LGBT news organizations in the world, we didn’t find the wordplay on LGBT hate crimes to be funny.
Using the magic of the internet, we easily identified the creator of the shirts as Chris Ivey, CEO of Triton Team Apparel Specialists, a company which boasts, “free full-service screen-printing and embroidery on all of our garments.” It wasn’t difficult to deduce that Triton was the company printing these shirts.
We made a decision to post Mr. Ivey’s business contact information, as well as a contact address for his business partner and the University of Alabama copyright infringement department, and asked that readers reach out to all three voicing their concerns about the “Hey Homeauxs” shirts.
Within an hour of publishing, the University of Alabama released a statement denouncing the “mean-spirited, offensive and totally unacceptable” shirts, which we then published as well. During this time, Mr. Ivey removed the HeyHomeauxs.com website, where the shirts were being sold. Mr. Ivey soon reached out to us via email, and eventually the phone to apologize.
I won’t get into the specifics of the conversation again, but you can read about it here. Mr. Ivey explained that he had received hundreds of complaints, but that he was taking the time to apologize to each one specifically. To be honest, we were surprised that our “town square” moment had worked. In just a few hours, we had succeeded in having the site taken down, and had received a seemingly genuine apology.
But as Mr. Ivey spoke, red flags began to appear. For one, he claimed that no shirts had actually been sold. I found this to be skeptical based on the number of “likes” the website selling the shirts had. But even more skeptical was the claim that his company, Triton, had absolutely nothing to do with the shirts and therefor should be edited out of my article. Both his own and his business partner’s reputations were at stake, he argued.
To be blunt, I didn’t believe him. Rereading Triton’s “full-service screen-printing” capabilities on their website led me to update my original post to reflect that we had spoken, but that I would not be removing any of the original information I had included.
The far majority of messages we received for holding our ground were in support of this decision, but a vocal minority were upset with us for continuing to embarrass Mr. Ivey. From our perspective, we weren’t continuing to do anything at all. In fact, we had only written one piece on the entire situation. We try to treat Unicorn Booty like a television newscast. Once something “airs”, we do not remove it from our site. In a world with Google Cache, nothing is ever deleted from the internet anyway. We had after all managed to take screenshots of HeyHomeauxs.com after Mr. Ivey had “removed the site.”
Since January 4, when this all happened, Mr. Ivey had contacted us nearly every day demanding that we take down his business information. We also received many emails from readers who forwarded their own email chains with Mr. Ivey along to us. In each of these apologies, he repeated a similar defense:
“In addition, my business was never associated with these shirts. The person who posted my contact information looked me up on facebook and saw information about my business, then posted my business information as well.”
With every phone call or email from Mr. Ivey, we perceived his credibility to stretch thinner. We had expected Mr. Ivey to admit his mistake, and to offer a charitable donation to an LGBT non-profit like The Trevor Project. Instead, Mr. Ivey continued to place blame on us for defaming him and his business which he alleged we were incorrectly including in our article.
This pattern continued until January 10, when my business partner Nick spoke with Mr. Ivey on the phone. Mr. Ivey threatened to sue us for defaming him and for falsely attributing these shirts to his business, Triton Team Apparel Specialists. Nick told Mr. Ivey we would remove the post only if he provided us with a notarized statement explaining that Triton was not the seller of these shirts, along with domain registration information for HeyHomeauxs.com. Mr. Ivey seemed unwilling to do so. Surely you can guess why.
To be blunt, I had had enough. Mr. Ivey and his Hey Homeauxs shirts had eaten up the better part of a week of my life, and I was well past the point of finding his actions to be sincere. In my opinion, Mr. Ivey was only interested in erasing all traces that this had happened. Not to sincerely apologize for his actions, but to pretend that they had never happened in the first place.
I revisited the story after hearing we were being threatened with a lawsuit. And then I surprised even myself, by successfully purchasing one of the Hey Homeauxs shirts that supposedly were no longer for sale, having been “taken down” by Mr. Ivey.
I’ll spare you the I-told-you-so’s, but as you can see here on my receipt and Paypal confirmation page, it was in fact Triton Team Apparel Specialists that had been selling the shirts all along. Purchasing the shirt even directed me back to Triton’s homepage.
Our original article about Chris Ivey and Triton Team Apparel Specialists selling the Hey Homeauxs shirts will not be coming down anytime soon. Mr Ivey lied to us repeatedly, told us over and over again how wrong we were, and even threatened to sue us for reporting that he had designed and marketed shirts which we found completely offensive. On top of that, from the emails we have seen, Mr. Ivey lied to each of you as well. Over and over again.
In addition, my business was never associated with these shirts. The person who posted my contact information looked me up on facebook and saw information about my business, then posted my business information as well.
No shirts were ever produced, and the site was taken down early this morning. In addition, my business was never associated with these shirts.
…And to the “five hundred” others that Chris told us he personally apologized to. If you emailed Mr. Ivey, you may want to check that “apology” of your own again.
We have hesitated until now to post this update to the story because it was such a total drain on time and resources in our office. However, messages condemning us for “defaming” Mr. Ivey continue to appear. We thought it only fair to share the entire story to date with those readers who have criticized our actions or judged without knowing all of the facts.
We gave Chris the benefit of the doubt the first time we spoke, which he proceeded to squander with threats of a lawsuit. Mr. Ivey has been caught in multiple lies, which should come as a surprise to absolutely nobody. We are talking after all about a guy who is selling shirts that read “Hey Homeauxs – we just beat the hell out of you.”
I can’t wait until mine arrives in the mail.