Twitch star Kai Cenat, who recently became the most subscribed creator on the streaming platform, asked his fans and followers to show up for a real-life giveaway in New York City. And they did, with reportedly 2,000 people arriving, leading to chaos and arrests.
On August 4, Cenat held a giveaway event in Union Square in New York City. Beforehand, the popular streamer promised that he would be handing out $100 gift cards, PCs, and PlayStation 5 consoles. In a short stream from Cenat before going out into the massive crowd, the Twitch streamer pointed out the huge number of people gathered and commented that the NYPD was out in full force, claiming the cops had already used tear gas on some. Before departing for the meet, Cenat asked his fans to be “safe.”
“It’s a lot of y’all out there right now,” said Cenat on stream. “Everybody who’s out there make sure y’all safe.”
Once he left his bus with his entourage and bodyguards, he was immediately swarmed by fans. His security team surrounded him and helped him press through.
CBS reports an estimated 2,000 people showed up. The news org also reports some were arrested after a few people began destroying barricades. At one point, a CBS helicopter recorded someone using a fire extinguisher on a crowd of people. No injuries have been reported yet.
Cenat reportedly didn’t have a permit for the event, which grew so large and out of control that NYPD called for a “Level 4 Mobilization” and nearly 1,000 police officers were sent to the area. Cenat was later seen in numerous videos being escorted away from the chaotic scene by several police officers.
At one point a vehicle was seen driving away from the chaos but was mobbed by the crowd. CBS reports that it moved slowly through a large number of fans before it sped off with people hanging onto the car. CBS noted that at least three people were seen falling off the speeding vehicle as it escaped the area.
Cenat is a popular content creator who started out with a YouTube channel in 2012, before transitioning to Twitch in 2021. Primarily known for comedic videos, pranks, and his wild personality, he became a star on Twitch while playing games like GTA and NBA. The streamer also spends a lot of time in the “Just Chatting” section of Twitch, reacting to content and hanging out with rappers like Ice Spice. Cenat recently broke a historic milestone, reaching over 300k active subscribers on Twitch, beating out other big names like Ludwig and Ninja.
Update 08/04/2023 6:19 p.m. ET: During a press conference held a few hours after the massive giveaway, NYPD confirmed that Cenat was being held in police custody after he was removed from the scene for “safety reasons.”
NYPD chief of police Jeffrey Maddrey spoke to the gathered press for about 10 minutes, answering questions and giving an update. Maddrey said multiple officers and citizens were injured during the chaotic giveaway. He said that when the crowd grew too big and dangerous, the NYPD declared it an “unlawful assembly” and cleared the area of Cenat fans.
Police are still deciding on possible charges to file against Cenat, though Maddrey suggested “inciting a riot” could be one possible crime levied against the streamer. According to the NYPD and city officials, the large event wasn’t pre-approved by the city’s government or police. Cenat is currently still in custody and being questioned.
When asked how many people had been arrested, Maddrey was unable to provide a specific number but did claim that an entire city bus was filled with people in police custody.
Kotaku has contacted Twitch about Cenat’s giveaway and the chaos that followed.
Update 08/04/2023 9:09 p.m. ET: The NYC ABC and CBS affiliates report that Cenat will be charged with “at least two” counts of inciting a riot and unlawful assembly, and likely other offenses.