In January 2019, Smollett claimed that he was attacked by two white supremacist Trump supporters in a racially-motivated hate crime near his Chicago apartment during a polar vortex. The incident sparked outrage from activists and the media, Fox News reported. In December 2021, Smollett was convicted of five felony counts of disorderly conduct, and in March 2022, he was sentenced to 150 days in county jail.
Brothers Abimbola "Bola" and Olabinjo "Ola" Osundairo, who were accomplices in Jussie Smollett's staged hate crime, gave their first media interview about the hoax, which is now streaming on Fox Nation. The brothers shared their experiences working with Smollett to plan and execute the hoax, as well as their feelings about the fallout from the incident.
"A friend of mine had sent me a screenshot of the front page of, I believe, a TMZ article, that showed that Jussie had been attacked. I ran to my brother and was like, ‘Yo, mission accomplished. We did it,’" Bola noted in the five-part series. "Now we've secured the payment of our $500 that he owes us because he only wrote us a check of [sic] $3,500, and that was the day we were supposed to leave for Nigeria."
According to Bola, he and Ola were en route to a popular TV series audition outside of the country when the alleged attack was supposed to take place.
"Things were on the up and up for us. Things were looking pretty good," Ola said.
Smollett claimed that two "white supremacists" attacked him, pouring chemicals on him, putting a noose around his neck, and shouting racially and homophobically-charged slurs while telling him he was in "MAGA country." However, the identities of the men who were behind the masks were gradually revealed, Fox News noted further.
"You know Eddie Johnson [the former Chicago Police Superintendent] said he could tell in the footage that you guys are black, right?" asked an off-camera interviewer.
"Really?" Ola responded. "I feel like he's just saying that… we were in character the whole time."
"So you think you guys are believable white supremacists?" the interviewer pressed.
"One hundred percent! Look at me," Bola said, laughing. Chicago Police released images of the incident shortly after it took place, but Johnson said the initially released image of two silhouettes walking shoulder-to-shoulder down the snowy Chicago street was not the best image they had at the time.
Another image showed one of the Osundairo brothers wearing a red hat, which was believed to be a reference to the "Make America Great Again" (MAGA) slogan frequently used by supporters of former President Donald Trump.
"I didn't want people to focus on that," Bola on reflection, later noting that black and LGBTQ+ communities would have gone crazy. "Sometimes, once the toothpaste gets out of the tube, you can get it back in there."
Despite the unraveling of Smollett's fabricated incident, some people still saw it as a reference to larger issues of racism in America under the Trump administration.
"Everyone immediately thought ‘This is what Trump’s America is like," New York Post national correspondent Gabrielle Fonrouge noted during the special.
"You had people in MAGA hats chasing after a black man in the night, tying a rope around his neck, calling him racist slurs, calling him homophobic slurs," she continued.