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Penn Jillette Apologizes for Saying That Being From Newfoundland Is a ‘Euphemism for Stupid’

Penn Jillette found himself in hot water after making a controversial joke about the intelligence of Newfoundlanders during his appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher on Friday, August 18.

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“I’m probably from Newfoundland, which is just a euphemism for stupid,” the magician, 62, said on the HBO late-night show. “All of those people up in the frozen North that club seals, those are my people.”

Penn Jillette attends the 'American Gods' premiere at ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles on April 20, 2017.
Penn Jillette attends the ‘American Gods’ premiere at ArcLight Hollywood in Los Angeles on April 20, 2017. Michael Kovac/Getty Images for Starz

Many residents of the Canadian island took to social media to criticize Jillette’s remarks, prompting him to issue an apology the next afternoon.

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“I apologize to people of my favorite place, Newfoundland, and my family for screwing up on Real Time. Bad idea, badly done, not finished,” he tweeted on Saturday, August 19. “May I apologize without apologizing or mitigating to the people of Newfoundland. I was wrong. Wrong wrong wrong wrong wrong.”

According to The Canadian Press, Jillette tweeted more than 130 apologetic messages to the people of Newfoundland, from where he said his family has roots, in the 24 hours after Real Time aired. He reportedly called himself an “idiot” in 50 posts, and used the words “sorry,” “fail” and “wrong” more than 200 times combined.

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The illusionist, who is half of the magic duo Penn & Teller, then apologized for his “sloppy” apology before apologizing again for clogging the feeds of his two million Twitter followers with additional apologies.

Jillette further explained his family’s origins in a series of tweets. “Being proud of some imaginary group you were born into seems insane and wrong,” he wrote. “I went back to Newfoundland to see where my grandfather grew up, but I’m not a Newfoundland American. I’m Penn Jillette … who didn’t even do well in Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey the Greatest Show on Earth Clown College.”

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