WHAT MONEY CAN'T BUY
Lori Loughlin’s Daughter Caught in College Bribery Scandal After Admitting ‘I Don’t Really Care About School’
Loughlin allegedly bribed her daughter’s way into USC, where Olivia Jade—a freshman with nearly 2 million followers on YouTube—has made money posting about her life in college.
Aunt Becky from Full House was one of 50 people, including award-winning actress Felicity Huffman, to be indicted in what the FBI is calling the largest college admissions cheating scandal in history. Per unsealed court documents provided by BuzzFeed News, Lori Loughlin and her clothing designer husband Mossimo Giannulli allegedly bribed University of Southern California rowing coaches with $500,000 so their daughters Isabella and Olivia could be considered crew team recruits in order to boost their chances of admission. Reportedly, neither daughter actually rowed competitively.
While it’s unclear if Olivia knew about the scandal, the freshman communications major has profited from being a social media influencer in college. Under the name Olivia Jade, she has nearly 2 million followers on YouTube and 1.3 million on Instagram. A September Instagram photo shows Olivia sitting on her bed in her newly decorated dorm room. The post served as sponsored content for Amazon Prime, which provided the furniture. “Officially a college student! It’s been a few weeks since I moved into my dorm and I absolutely love it,” she wrote in a caption. “I got everything I needed from Amazon with @primestudent and had it all shipped to me in just two-days. #ad #primestudent #allonamazon.” Olivia even went on to promote the brand in an interview with Teen Vogue.
The influencer, who also partnered with Sephora on a makeup palette last year, has been frank about how college isn’t her priority. “I don’t know how much of school I’m going to attend,” Olivia said in an August 2018 YouTube video. “But I do want the experience of game days, partying. I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”
Unsurprisingly, her subscribers questioned her comments, and Olivia quickly followed up two days later with an apology video titled, “im sorry.” “It’s a privilege, and it’s a blessing. And I’m really grateful,” she said of attending college. “I think a lot of people obviously like to attack me because I’ve grown up a different life, and again that’s not me. Everything I say I’m like walking on eggshells because I’m freaking out about saying something wrong.”
Olivia has continued to speak out about her college experience. On Friday she appeared on the Zach Sang Show podcast and YouTube channel, crediting her interest in attending college to her parents. “Mostly, my parents really wanted me to go because both of them didn’t go to college,” she said, maintaining that neither parent forced her to go. Instead, she’s following her sister’s footsteps, she said. “But I do like it. It’s also really cool to create content from a different side of things, like in school,” she added, calling it “the coolest thing” to receive DMs on social media from her followers asking how to apply to college. She didn’t elaborate on how she responds.
Olivia, according to court documents, did not complete her own application. Loughlin allegedly told a cooperating witness over the phone that Olivia “has not submitted all her college [sic] apps and is confused on how to do so.” The unnamed witness responded, saying they directed an employee to submit Olivia’s application of her behalf.
Last month, Olivia posted on Twitter that she’d much rather focus on YouTube than attending classes. In response, Uncle Jesse himself, John Stamos, who appeared on Jade’s YouTube channel and maintains a close friendship with Loughlin, responded, “Go to school!”
Olivia isn’t the only child of those indicted with a huge social media following. Lilia Buckingham is the 16-year-old daughter of big-time Democratic donor Jane Buckingham, who gave $10,800 to Kirsten Gillibrand’s campaign in 2018. The FBI alleges Buckingham paid $50,000 to have another person take the ACT exam for her son. While Lilia, an actress for TV production company Brat, was not mentioned in the court documents, she has been mocked on Instagram by some of her 1.4 million followers. Olivia disabled her own Instagram comments Monday afternoon.
USC has released several statements on the FBI’s investigation. They have fired coaches Donna Heinel and Jovan Vavic and are continuing an internal investigation. The university declined to comment to The Daily Beast on whether they will reconsider the enrollment status of students, including Olivia, allegedly admitted under fraudulent pretenses.