Markus “Notch” Persson, the Swedish billionaire who created the wildly popular sandbox video game Minecraft, has riled up thousands of conspiracy theorists by embarking on a long-winded defense of Pizzagate and a host of other conspiracy theories, including a “manufactured race war,” on Twitter.
On Friday, Persson, who sold Minecraft to Microsoft for $2.5 billion in 2014, tweeted “(pizzagate is real),” to his almost 3.9 million followers. The tweet immediately caught the attention of a vocal crowd of supporters that continues to believe a debunked conspiracy theory that Democrats led a pedophile ring out of a pizzeria in Washington, D.C.
When The Daily Beast asked Persson to clarify his beliefs on Friday, the 38-year-old responded: “I feel more like people are picking one of two sides emotionally in this incredibly insanely huge binary split, much like politics.”
However, shortly afterward, Persson embarked on a verbose defense of Pizzagate. The man who publicly called Zoe Quinn, the initial victim of Gamergate, a “cunt” in June, rallied up even more support among ardent believers, writing: “People are saying there's a lot of suspect codewords including the word ‘pizza’. That place has very disturbing art and social media.”
Persson was referring to Comet Ping Pong, the name of the pizzeria from where conspiracy theorists falsely believe Clinton, and her former campaign chairman John Podesta, operated a child sex trafficking ring in its basement, despite the shop having no basement. The theory was born out of what believers say are coded messages in Podesta’s emails, like “pizza” for “little boy,” made public by Wikileaks during the 2016 presidential election.
Armed with an AR-15 and a revolver, Edgar M. Welch shot up the Comet Ping Pong in December seeking the same nonexistent pedophile ring Persson is referencing. Welch is now serving four years in prison.
“The podestas appear very similar to a police sketch issued in connection to the disappearance of a child. People who investigate keep dying,” Persson tweeted, referring to a related conspiracy theory that sprung up during the 2016 election that the Podestas somehow kidnapped famous missing child Madeleine McCann in Portugal in 2007. “There are very weird phrasings in the leaked emails, like ‘how thinly to slin [sic] the pizza’, and about flying in a lot of fast food to the [White House].”
Persson also promoted related conspiracy theories about slain DNC staffer Seth Rich, another about “Obama’s last speech to the UN,” and one about “holistic medicine proponents” who “keep suiciding.”
Persson, who paid $70 million for a mansion in Beverly Hills, criticized the media for failing to cover these conspiracy theories, yet reporting on the Trump campaign’s alleged collusion with Russia during the presidential election. “And the kicker is that none of this gets reported in the media. People focus on actually proven conspiracy theories like the russia nonsense,” he wrote.
Persson capped off his tweetstorm alleging that “a very obvious attempt at a race war is being manufactured by the media and the god damned retarded alt-right and alt-left fuel that fire.”
Despite Persson’s tweets about Pizzagate, which continued throughout the weekend and into this week, he repeatedly refused to say whether he personally believes in the theory. When another Twitter user insisted he is a believer, Persson responded, “No, I explained what pizzagate is. My take is a ‘find out fact, but don't assume irrational things completely out of scope.’”
Persson clarified his claims to The Daily Beast on Monday.
"To stop the mass hysteria, we need to discuss the contents of the wikileaks reasonably and calmly,” he said. “Nothing is ever as bad as it can seem."
When asked to clearly state whether or not he believes in the conspiracy theory, Persson declined.
“I get this after saying my position is that focusing on a single all-encompassing talking point is a bad thing,” he said. “It's not even well defined.”