Pete Evans has reportedly been paid $200,000 by Channel 10 despite being "dumped" from I'm a Celebrity ... Get Me Out Of Here! over recent social media posts.
Speculation erupted yesterday that Evans would be part of the reality show's cast when it begins filming next week, but that's no longer the case.
"Network 10 can confirm that Pete Evans will not be appearing on this season of I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out Of Here!" a Ten spokesperson told news.com.au.
It follows comments from the Byron Bay based chef and author, which appeared to suggest that humans are not capable of spreading COVID-19.
Rumours about Evans' participation in the show have been swirling for days after the first promo for the season dropped.
Addressing it on Nova's Fitzy & Wippa on Friday, host Julia Morris said she hoped it was true.
"Surely at a minimum there's been a conversation," she said.
"I saw the rumours in the paper and I said please let that be true because that might actually make my year!"
Fitzy agreed that the controversial celebrity chef was "fascinating" to watch.
Over on Kyle and Jackie O's radio show, however, Morris hinted she could know more than she was letting on.
She said there were a number of celebrities with "different schools of thought" heading to the outback.
People on social media said there was zero chance they would be watching the show if Evans was on.
Musician Ben Lee tweeted, "Absolutely not, Channel 10. No airtime for a guy who is using his platform to brainwash and radicalise his audience."
Dr Vyom Sharma, a GP and medical commentator who doubled down on his earlier comments about Evans, simply tweeted "f***ing unreal".
EVANS APOLOGISES OVER POST
The furore comes after Evans offered "sincere apologies to anyone who has misinterpreted a previous post of a caterpillar and a butterfly having a chat over a drink and perceived that I was promoting hatred".
"I look forward to studying all of the symbols that have never existed and research them thoroughly before posting. Hopefully this symbol (heart emoji) resonates deeply into the hearts of ALL! (heart emoji)," he wrote, alongside a picture of a rainbow coloured heart.
His publisher Pan Macmillian earlier announced it was "finalising" its relationship with Evans, saying that it "does not support the recent posts made by Pete Evans" which featured the Black Sun symbol.
"Those views are not our views as a company or the views of our staff. Pan Macmillian is currently finalising its contractual relationship with Pete Evans and as such will not be entering any further publishing agreements moving forward," the statement read.
"If any retailer wishes to return Pete Evans' books, please contact Pan Macmillian."
Dymocks Australia promptly followed suit, with the book retailer tweeting that they "are in the process of removing his books from our website and have advised our stores to return their stock as offered by the publisher".
They were the latest to react to Evans' controversial social media posts, with Dr Sharma tweeting that Evans "is the literal Merriam Webster dictionary definition of 'f***ing idiot" after the ex-My Kitchen Rules star suggested that coronavirus doesn't exist.
Evans' previously told a video interviewer that people don't spread Covid-19.
"Is that what we've come here to do? Do we have the belief in ourselves that we're contagious, that we are spreaders of something?" Evans asked.
"I choose not to believe in that narrative because it doesn't make any sense to me."
The interviewer then asked Evans if he was concerned that his choice to ignore medical advice could spread the virus to more vulnerable people.
After scoffing and snorting, Evans replied: "It doesn't spread the virus."
Dr Sharma was among thousands of Victorians who rejected the claims on social media – leading to a mass of tweets that saw Evans trending again on Twitter.
Dr Sharma then went further with his comments.
"I've reflected on my comments. I stand by them, but they miss a more consequential point," he wrote.
"Yes he's a f***ing idiot. But that's not a moral failing.
"He sells $15K cures for an ailment, then pivots to claiming it's a hoax, based entirely on self interest."
The $15,000 cure Dr Sharma is referring to is the BioCharger, a device Evans was flogging on his social media channels that he claimed could be used to treat "Wuhan coronavirus".
The Therapeutic Goods Administration fined him $25,000 for lifestreaming the baseless claims to his 1.4 million followers.
The Federal Government's regulatory body wrote in its assessment that Evans had shared "a claim which has no apparent foundation, and which the TGA takes extremely seriously".
On Sunday, more doctors voiced their opinions about Evans' claims and how he used social media to spread misinformation.
Fellow Melbourne GP, Dr Brad McKay, wrote on Twitter: "Pete Evans used his celebrity status to create a large social media following.
"He encouraged his fans to protect themselves from coronavirus by huddling around an expensive fluorescent light, while also discounting the virus as a hoax. Please ask your friends to unfollow him."
Dr Pieter Peach, an anaesthesiologist from Melbourne's Royal Children's Hospital, wrote: "Behaviour like this by influential celebrities needs to be called out."
Dr Simon Gibbs, who is director of the Victorian and Tasmanian Amyloidosis Service and a haematologist, wrote: "There are many, many doctors who agree with Dr Sharma but are prevented from saying as much because of social media clauses in their contract with private and public hospitals.
"Pete Evans says he has a $15,000 machine that 'cures Covid' but doesn't believe the virus exists," he wrote.
Instead of bunkering down amid the backlash, Evans shared the Black Sun cartoon.
When it was pointed out to Evans that he had shared a symbol from Nazi Germany and some occult subcultures, such as Satanism, the chef best known for sharing his paleo diet wisdom responded: "I was waiting for someone to see that."