An arrest warrant is out for actress Lori Loughlin over allegations that she and dozens of others paid hefty bribes to get her children in elite colleges. And now, attention is turning to Loughlin’s 19-year-old daughter Olivia Giannulli, who goes by Olivia Jade, an influencer who boasts over one million Instagram followers and nearly two million YouTube subscribers. Olivia is currently a freshman at the University of Southern California, but her admission to one of the top schools in the country may be thanks to a $500,000 under-the-table transaction.
ABC News reports that according to court documents, Loughlin and her husband Mossimo Giannulli agreed to “pay bribes totaling $500,000 in exchange for having their two daughters designated as recruits to the USC crew team—despite the fact that they did not participate in crew—thereby facilitating their admission to USC.”
The documents note that after Olivia’s older sister was admitted to USC as a crew recruit, Loughlin and Giannulli wanted the same for Olivia. A “crew profile” was arranged in which Olivia posed in action shots, including a “photograph of [Olivia] on an ergometer.”
If my perusal of Olivia’s social media presence in the last couple of hours has taught me anything, it’s that the influencer has been on a few boats in the last year, but not one used for crew. Rather, ones floating gently off the coast of Italy.
But it’s not just Olivia’s absence from one of the country’s best college crew teams that’s catching flack, but rather Olivia having already cashed in on her allegedly bought student status.
In early September 2018, Olivia uploaded a college dorm tour video chock-full of Amazon products (she claimed the video was not sponsored by Amazon, however). Olivia even talked to Teen Vogue about it:
A couple of weeks later, Olivia made an Instagram post from her college dorm room in collaboration with Amazon. The caption says: “Officially a college student! It’s been a few weeks since I moved into my dorm and I absolutely love it. I got everything I needed from Amazon with @primestudent and had it all shipped to me in just two-days. #ad #primestudent #allonamazon.”
Her replies are now inundated with comments like “lol bribery” and “Y’ALL ARE GOING TO JAIL.”
Olivia has also produced back-to-school themed content for Smile Direct Club. But for the most part, the majority of her college-related posts come in the form of Get Ready With Me videos and vlogs of herself drinking smoothies around USC’s campus. Olivia seems to be more invested in promoting her Sephora palette.
It’s worth noting that Olivia was already the subject of college-related controversy in August 2018 when she posted a video in which she said she didn’t care about school and only wanted to go to college to party.
From Yahoo News:
“I don’t know how much of school I’m gonna attend,” she shared with her nearly 2 million subscribers, after explaining her extensive work schedule. “But I’m gonna go in and talk to my deans and everyone, and hope that I can try and balance it all. But I do want the experience of like game days, partying…I don’t really care about school, as you guys all know.”
Olivia’s viewers responded with mixed opinions — although the overwhelming majority were bashed her “privileged” and “ignorant” attitude towards education.
Olivia posted an apology video afterward.
And in a vlog uploaded on February 5 titled “spend time w me at college! (friends, parties, class, etc),” Olivia once again backtracked the comments she initially made about college:
Anytime I do a college video people are like, “Why do you only show you going out or getting ready for a party? It’s not only about partying.” And before I went to college I was super naive and ignorant and dumb and I was like, “I’m not going to college ‘cause I want an education, I’m going to meet people and be social and party.” And like, that’s literally the dumbest thing you can ever say, especially when I have the opportunity to have such a good education. So, it’s not that I don’t show the education part [in my videos] because I don’t care, because now that I’m here it’s actually really interesting and I love it and that’s why I’m still here. I just don’t think it’s that fun for me to film a whole college class instead of you guys seeing the social part of it.
She went on to say that if her subscribers want more academic life content, she’ll do what she can to provide it. She then hopped on the phone with a Tresemmé rep to talk about her then-upcoming trip to New York Fashion Week.
On February 6, Olivia tweeted, “YouTube will always be my #1 passion. I promise I’d way rather be filming 24/7 than sitting in 6 hours of classes straight but an education is also super important to me.”
But all of this could just be the guilt talking. College isn’t for everyone, and it seems pretty clear that Olivia is only attending because her parents wanted her to. If her disinterest in college wasn’t obvious enough in her YouTube content or tweets, she made it perfectly clear in a recent interview. Yahoo Finance reports that during an interview for the “Zach Sang Show” podcast, Olivia said that while neither of her parents are college grads, she is in college, “mostly because my parents really wanted me to go.”
She added that she likes vlogging around campus to showcase her college life, but it seems like college is more of a means of content fodder than anything else.
There’s a dark irony in the fact that Olivia’s parents are being charged for buying her spot at USC, especially when she doesn’t seem to care for higher education in the first place. But the real question now is how culpable is Olivia in this mess of a scheme. Yes, she allegedly participated in fake rowing photos, but if she was pressured by her mother and father as a high school student, how much control did she have over this situation?
Maybe Olivia’s parents should have just let their daughter vlog and stunt on the ‘gram in peace.