A member of Team USA Paintball is being slammed as ‘cruel’ and ‘evil’ for mocking and ‘fat-shaming’ a teenager who had to hospitalized with COVID-19.
Jessica Maiolo, 31, shared a video on TikTok in which she scornfully reacted to a news report about an ill teen who was hospitalized due to COVID-19, insisting that the boy didn’t need a vaccine — but that he did need to lose weight.
The video earned furious backlash, with commenters comparing her to a ‘Hallmark Christmas movie villain’ for ridiculing a sick child and calling on her team to kick her out.
Viral: Jessica Maiolo, a member of Team USA Paintball is being slammed as ‘cruel’ and ‘evil’ for mocking a teenager hospitalized with COVID-19
Consequences? Team USA Paintball has since released a statement claiming it suspended Maiolo, though she was seen at a practice in the past day
Jessica, who is from Greenville, North Carolina, recently captured herself watching an ABC News report about rising COVID cases affecting children.
In a video that’s captured the attention of thousands of other TikTokers, Jessica paused the screen on an image of a hospitalized teen and his worried mother.
But Jessica clearly had no sympathy for the child or his parents.
‘Ma’am, your kid does not need a COVID shot. Your kid needs a f***in’ treadmill. That’s what he needs,’ she said with a smug smile.
Jessica has since deleted the video, but not before it was captured by a fellow TikTok user named Savannah, who was disgusted by the content.
‘Jessica, as a member of Team USA paintball, I really don’t think you’re qualified on public health issues,’ Savannah said. ‘Especially when not when it’s to fat-shame a hospitalized teenager who probably didn’t have a say in his vaccination status.’
On TV: Jessica, who is from Greenville, North Carolina, recently captured herself watching an ABC News report about rising COVID cases affecting children
‘Ma’am, your kid does not need a COVID shot. Your kid needs a f***in’ treadmill. That’s what he needs,’ she said with a smug smile
‘And I don’t think my father, the inventor of Toaster Strudel, would too pleased to hear about this,’ she quipped, referencing a popular line from the movie Mean Girls.
‘So I messaged them,’ she went on, referring to Team USA Paintball. ‘And I’ll keep messaging them every day, until you’re off the team. Because you are not a representation of this country.’
Savannah also included a screenshot of her message to the team, which read: ‘Does your organization condone fat shaming and COVID-19 misinformation? Because that’s exactly what Ms. Jessi Maiolo is doing on TikTok. Please advise.
The video has quickly gone viral, and comments have poured in from horrified viewers.
‘Not very pro-life of her,’ wrote one.
‘I’m appalled [by] her. You see someone hurting and this is your response? Was she trying to be funny?’ wrote another.
Yet another commenter called her ‘cruel for no reason,’ while others called her ‘so evil,’ ‘ignorant,’ ‘a vile human,’ and ‘disgusting.’
Tracked down: Jessica has since deleted the video, but not before it was captured by a fellow TikTok user named Savannah , who was disgusted by the content
Well? She messaged the team asking them whether they ‘condone fat shaming and COVID-19 misinformation’
Several commenters have called for her to be kicked off her team.
‘I’m just waiting for her to play victim like every other childish adult who can’t be bothered to think before they post anything,’ wrote one.
Team USA has since responded to the backlash, writing in a public statement that Maiolo has been suspended ‘until we can achieve a satisfactory level of due process.’
Due process would indicate fair treatment through the judicial system, but as Maiolo isn’t accused of committing any crime, it’s unclear what Team USA Paintball means by the phrase.
‘We try to respect every individual’s right to have opinions and express them personally. However, we completely understand that the actions of one of our players was incredibly inappropriate and insensitive and we do not condone it. Her opinions are hers alone and do not speak for the team, an organization, a sponsor, or a sport,’ they wrote.
‘We do fully understand the backlash, and while we don’t share the same views of any particular player, we do feel that it is important to note that everyone that plays for the organization represent different beliefs, come from different backgrounds, and do not always agree on many things. But we come together respectful of each other’s points of view. That is something we are incredibly proud of,’ they continued.
Team USA Paintball released a statement saying that all of its players have different opinions and they are ‘respectful’ of these different views
The team said that Maiolo’s actions ‘are not representative of our efforts or our mission,’ but condemned those who have spoken out to criticize her.
‘We do not believe anything positive ever comes from the condemning of shaming and bullying with more shaming and bullying,’ they said.
Hundreds of comments have poured in on Team USA Paintball’s Facebook post, with many saying that their statement and actions aren’t good enough, describing the statement as ‘fence-riding,’ and ‘indecisive’ and pointing out that it contained no apology.
‘This is a pathetic statement,’ wrote one commenter, accusing the organization of playing both sides.
‘Sounded good except: “suspended until…” Talk about sketchy. Way to just roll over & let the world know how weak America is, & solidly confirm how morally bankrupt the entire planet already believes we are. This is so disappointing,’ said another.
‘Yall really just said a whole lot of nothing didn’t you,’ wrote a third.
Still there? They claimed to have suspended her ‘until we can achieve a satisfactory level of due process,’ but she was seen at practice hours later
‘Respecting a different opinion isn’t the same as being okay with one of your team members fat shaming a kid potentially dying from a highly contagious disease,’ argued one more.
‘”Different backgrounds” doesn’t justify her hate filled heart. How broken a human being must be to bully and harass a sick hospitalized child. Shame on your whole team,’ said yet another.
The backlash has continued to grow when it was discovered that Maiolo doesn’t appear to actually be suspended at all, and was pictured on a teammate’s Instagram at a practice since the suspension was announced.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Team USA Paintball for comment.
Meanwhile, Maiolo released her own statement on Instagram this morning.
‘What started out as me expressing my personal opinion about something I feel quite passionately about has turned into a moment of regret for the situation I have put my teammates, our sponsors, and the sport I love into,’ she wrote.
She said she wished she could go back and ‘choose my words more carefully and consider how my opinions may affect others.’
Maiolo has been compared to a ‘Hallmark Christmas movie villain’ for ridiculing a sick child
Sorry not sorry: Maiolo has since released a statement saying she will be more ‘responsible’ in the future and hopes the teen she mocked ‘is well’
‘It was never my intention to shame any individual, my reaction to the story about the young boy actually comes from a place of deep fear that people believe they have little hope in the way of staying healthy and being in control of their own wellness,’ she went on.
She went on to say that how she expressed herself left the wrong impression of who she is, and TikTok just captures ‘snapshots and not full pictures of who we are as real people.’
‘I know that there is much I may not know about the boy in the video and I do hope that he is well,’ she went on, adding that she is a ‘passionate individual’ who cares about fitness and ‘self advocacy.’
‘In the last 24 hours I have learned a lot about the power of my reach and in the future, I will be more responsible with it. I appreciate the opportunity to see this situation from the viewpoint of others, and to learn where I can do better and will,’ she concluded.