Who is Andrew Tate and why is he so divisive?
The influencer has built a huge online following in recent years – but is also a self-proclaimed misogynist
He's been dubbed the most famous man you've never heard of.
Influencer Andrew Tate has built a huge online following in recent years – but is also a self-proclaimed misogynist.
Tate is currently in custody in Romania, where he is facing human trafficking and rape allegations. A recent appeal against a judge's 21 February decision to extend his detention by 30 days was denied on 14 March, and he remains in custody.
According to Romanian authorities, £3.25 million of goods including cars were seized from Tate's property in the country.
Here, Yahoo News UK explains who he is and how he became such a notorious figure.
Who is Andrew Tate?
Tate, 36, is a former professional kickboxer who first came to prominence when he appeared on TV show Big Brother in 2016.
He was removed from the programme after a video surfaced online which appeared to show him attacking a woman with a belt – something he said was consensual.
He was born in the US and is the son of Emory Tate, an International Master chess player. Emory Tate died in 2015 and in an obituary on Chess.com, Tate is quoted as saying: "My dad taught me everything. Absolutely everything. And my fighting style in the ring mimics his on the board.
"When I was first learning to kickbox he would get mad at me for having my hands up. He would say I'm not a turtle and I have nothing to hide from. We focused on offence. I still fight with my hands down and head movement. All out attack."
After his parents separated, Tate moved with his mother and siblings to Luton in the 1990s. His mother, Eileen, is reportedly still living in the same property in the town's Marsh Farm neighbourhood.
Following his appearance on Big Brother, Tate gained further notoriety online for a string of offensive comments about women. By last year, he had built an enormous following online.
In August, he was banned from Facebook, Instagram, YouTube and TikTok. He had also been banned from Twitter but was reinstated in December, and has more than five million followers.
However, videos of Tate continued to be popular on those sites. A hashtag of Tate's name on TikTok has received more than 13 billion views. It has led campaigners to call for further action to be taken to stop the spread of dangerous content.
Despite the controversy around Tate, he crossed over into the mainstream before his arrest. In September last year, he was profiled – and challenged over his views – in The Times.
He also appeared on Piers Morgan's Uncensored show on TalkTV in October, a 75-minute interview that is the most watched video ever on the programme's YouTube channel, with nine million views. Tate was then invited back by Morgan in December, with that video having received just under six million views as of Sunday.
In that second interview, Morgan remarked how more people had stopped him on the street to talk about his first interview with Tate than they had to discuss his bombshell interview with football superstar Cristiano Ronaldo, which led to him leaving Manchester United. The Ronaldo interview has been watched four million times.
What are Tate's most offensive comments?
The Hope Not Hate campaign group describes Tate as "an extreme misogynist. He goes far beyond calling for traditional gender roles and believes women are actually the property of men. He has actively aligned himself with the organised misogyny subculture known as the Manosphere."
A selection of Tate's offensive comments include:
Saying on Twitter that women should "bear responsibility" for being sexually assaulted, a post which led to him being banned from the site in 2017
Suggesting on his YouTube channel that part of the reason he moved to Romania was the country's sex laws: "I'm not a f***ing rapist, but I like the idea of just being able to do what I want"
Saying on the Anything Goes with James English podcast last year: "It doesn't matter whether a woman wants to be a lawyer, a house-maker or a webcam girl, unless she has a man directing her she's going to f*** it up"
Describing how he would attack a woman who confronted him for cheating: "Bang out the machete, boom in her face and grip her by the neck. Shut up, b****"
Why does Tate have such a following?
Tate claims he speaks for "disenfranchised" young men and pursues a narrative around male self-improvement. Before his arrest, he would paint a picture of his apparently glamorous lifestyle involving women, fast cars and yachts.
During his second interview on Morgan's Uncensored show, Tate was asked why he has become so famous: "I think there's a whole swathe of the population, especially young men, that feel disenfranchised. They feel disenfranchised with the media machine and the things they are supposed to believe. They don't feel an affinity with the educational systems and the culture.
"And they look at a person like me, who stands up and says the things that many young men think... I am seen as a bastion of free speech and a bastion for masculinity as a whole because a lot of men are largely forgotten about."
But as Hugo Rifkind – the journalist who profiled Tate in The Times interview last year – pointed out, much of it comes down to Tate's delivery.
Read more: Andrew Tate: Channel 4 given ‘full access’ to controversial influencer for new documentary
"Tate is famous because he's brilliant at what he does," Rifkind wrote. "I don't mean he's nice. He's definitely not nice. He's famous because he talks with an addictive, terrifying fluency perfectly suited to the internet age. Like Donald Trump – with whom there are all sorts of similarities, actually – he's compulsive when you agree with him, but equally compulsive when you do not."
His following isn't just men, either. Schools are now having to work out how to deal with his influence among young boys.
Charlotte Carson, a teacher in Belfast, told the BBC last month: "A lot of the boys can see that there's parts of Andrew Tate that they respect and admire, and then there's parts that they don't – they know that he says a lot of terrible things. But also he's glamorous, he's good looking, he does lots of things that they think are cool."
His influence is so prevalent that Rishi Sunak has been urged to act. In the House of Commons last month, Labour MP Alex Davies-Jones told the prime minister he needs to help schools to stop boys being "brainwashed" by Tate.
What is Tate accused of?
Tate and his brother, Tristan, are facing allegations of human trafficking and being part of an organised crime gang, which they deny.
They were detained with two other suspects in Romania in December. Prosecutors said at the time of their arrest: "The four suspects... appear to have created an organised crime group with the purpose of recruiting, housing and exploiting women by forcing them to create pornographic content meant to be seen on specialised websites for a cost."
Romania's Directorate for Investigating Organised Crime and Terrorism said six injured people have been identified in relation to the investigation, one of whom is said to have been violently sexually assaulted in March last year.
The Tate brothers had their detention extended for a third time this week, while the other suspects, two Romanian women, were released but kept under house arrest.