That Viral Photo of Ernest With Jeffrey Epstein Is Actually Fake

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Image for article titled That Viral Photo of Ernest With Jeffrey Epstein Is Actually Fake
Image: Fake viral image (left) Getty Images (right

Have you seen that photo of beloved actor Jim Varney, famous for the Ernest movie franchise, standing next to convicted pedophile Jeffrey Epstein? The photo has been doing the rounds on Twitter today, but we’re here to tell you Ernest isn’t canceled. The image is photoshopped.

The real photo shows Varney with the late comedian Robin Williams at Bally’s Grand Casino Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada on February 12, 1987, according to Getty Images. The two men were attending the 13th Annual National Association of Theater Owners convention and other photos from that day show them with Disney characters like Snow White and Dopey.

Varney became famous playing Ernest in a series of hit comedy movies in the 1980s and 90s and it would be soul-crushing for a generation of Millennials to know that their hero might be involved with someone so evil. Thankfully, Ernest had nothing to do with Epstein’s crimes, which included sexually abusing girls as young as 14.


Varney, who was promoting his upcoming film Ernest Goes to Camp when the photo was taken in 1987, died in 2000 from lung cancer at just 50 years old. Williams’ new movie at the time wouldn’t come out until December of that year, Good Morning Vietnam. Williams died by suicide in 2014 at the age of 63.

The photoshopped image was created by Twitter user burgoonm, who took credit for placing Epstein’s head on the body of Robin Williams in a tweet sent overnight. The photoshopped image was accompanied by the caption, “This is what they meant when they said our faves might be implicated.”


“Before Snopes writes an article and because I feel bad. This is fake. Not sure why I did it, sometimes I do bad things. Lol,” the Twitter user wrote in a follow-up early Thursday.

The Twitter user’s caption about “faves” being “implicated” is a reference to a tweet from July of 2019 when Christine Pelosi, the daughter of Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House, implied that some politicians she may agree with politically could have participated in child rape with Epstein.


“This Epstein case is horrific and the young women deserve justice. It is quite likely that some of our faves are implicated but we must follow the facts and let the chips fall where they may - whether on Republicans or Democrats,” Pelosi wrote in 2019 after federal prosecutors pursued Epstein and put him in jail.

Epstein allegedly died by suicide on August 10, 2019, though many people believe he was killed by any number of high-profile associates implicated in his child sex trafficking scheme. The phrase “Epstein didn’t kill himself” has become an online meme that frequently bleeds into the real world.


Epstein may be dead, but his associate Ghislaine Maxwell was arrested by the FBI on July 2 and now faces charges of recruiting and sexually abusing girls. Maxwell has pleaded not guilty to the charges, but President Donald Trump, another known associate of Jefferey Epstein, said the most peculiar thing at a press conference on Wednesday when asked about Maxwell.

“I haven’t really been following it too much,” Trump said of Maxwell’s case. “I just wish her well, frankly.”


“I’ve met her numerous times over the years, especially since I lived in Palm Beach, and I guess they lived in Palm Beach,” Trump continued. “But I wish her well, whatever it is.”

Perhaps most importantly, there are no known photos of Jim Varney posing with Donald Trump.