15-Year-Old Justin Bieber Tells Racist Joke in Resurfaced Video

2 minute read

Updated 7:22 p.m. E.T.

Justin Bieber probably should have listened to whoever told him, “Don’t even say it.”

The 20-year-old singer has issued a statement of public apology to the Associated Press for a racist joke he told five years ago, seen in a recently surfaced clip published on the website of British tabloid the Sun.

In the clip, a then 15-year-old Bieber repeats the N-word several times as part of a crude punch line, while laughing, despite protests from his team.

Bieber’s camp knew about the existence of the footage and was willing to pay to keep it from surfacing, the Sun reported.

Though “Spoiled Teenager Says Regrettable, Dumb Thing” could be an Onion headline at this point, TMZ — which claims it had the clip years ago but declined to post it because of Bieber’s age and his subsequent admission of stupidity (not included in the clip) — initially reported that Bieber was “frustrated and sad” by the turn of events.

In the apology Sunday, “Bieber said when he was a kid he didn’t realize how certain words could hurt. He says he learned from his mistakes and apologized for them, and now is apologizing again because they have become public,” the AP said.

The video was reportedly recorded during the making of the performer’s 2011 concert documentary, Never Say Never.


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Write to Nolan Feeney at nolan.feeney@time.com