For a family whose press operation—spearheaded by momager Kris Jenner—is so tightly rigged, it comes, occasionally, as a surprise when the Kardashians’ vetting of potential endorsements, advertising contracts, and self-branded merchandise is less than stellar. (Though, as Jameela Jamil will eagerly point out, this is…frequent.) Take, for example, Fyre Festival, the now infamous fledgling music festival conceived by Billy McFarland and Ja Rule that was eventually exposed as, allegedly, a massive fraud. Prior to the festival’s dates in the spring of 2017, an array of supermodels and #influencers—among them, Emily Ratajkowski, Bella Hadid, Hailey Baldwin—made their first expeditions to Grand Exuma in the Bahamas, posting photos and cryptic orange squares to their Instagrams. Kendall Jenner, reportedly, was paid some $250,000 for one such post.
When Fyre Festival eventually flamed out, those same models took to social media to express their condolences to the festivalgoers who were stranded on the island—though none of them, to their great good fortune, had made their way to the Bahamas themselves. Model Shanina Shaik was the first to make a statement in the aftermath of the two documentaries chronicling the debacle: “The girls and I were just kind of dragged into it,” she told Elle in an interview published in February. Hailey Bieber (née Baldwin) donated her paycheck from the festival to charity. And in a new interview with the New York Times, Kendall Jenner decided to weigh in for the first time, describing how she, too, had been bamboozled, hoodwinked, led astray, et cetera, et cetera.
“You get reached out to by people to, whether it be to promote or help or whatever, and you never know how these things are going to turn out, sometimes it’s a risk,” she told the Times. “I definitely do as much research as I can, but sometimes there isn’t much research you can do because it’s a starting brand and you kind of have to have faith in it and hope it will work out the way people say it will.”
Or, to put it more succinctly, “you never really know what’s going to happen,” she said.
But at least the Fyre Festival saga superseded Jenner’s previous, potentially even more ill-conceived and ultimately scandalous spon-con: that Pepsi commercial, which invoked the Black Lives Matter movement while implying that perhaps racial harmony was just a cold can of soda away. (Pepsi is not exactly a “starting brand” that you “have to have faith in.”) It was swiftly pulled from television in response to the backlash; too bad you can’t so quickly undo an entire music festival. And at least a Pepsi ad, however bad, doesn’t usually involve a court appearance.