Maryland’s ‘Will Smith’ has continued getting unwanted attention since Oscars

Will Smith — the Maryland state senator — has been getting a lot of unwanted attention on social media ever since Will Smith — the actor — slapped comedian Chris Rock at the Oscars over a joke Rock had made about his wife’s hair.

“I actually went to bed a little early,” said Sen. Smith about the night of the Oscars.

“When I woke up the next morning, I had over 100 new Twitter followers and a bunch of messages,” Smith explained. “It was kind of a confusing moment.”

Smith is a Democrat who has represented Montgomery County in the Maryland General Assembly since 2015.

“The underlying conduct was serious and unfortunate, but there is a moment of levity there,” Smith said, of people mistaking him for the actor on social media.

Smith said people have been tweeting at him by accident ever since the awards ceremony.

“The messages have continued to pour in, and I’ve just let them come in,” Smith said, adding that he hasn’t been replying to the messages because there have been so many.

ABC said there were some 22.7 million social media interactions during Sunday’s ceremony — the most ever for an Oscars telecast and more than double the 9.5 million recorded from last year’s show.

The network said Oscar videos notched 16 million views on Facebook, Twitter or YouTube, also a record for the show. ABC does not have any details about what video clips were most popular, a spokeswoman said.

The telecast as a whole drew 16.6 million viewers, up 58% from the 2021 show that was dramatically scaled back due to the pandemic, the Nielsen company said. Yet this year’s show was down 30% from the more typical 2020 broadcast, which had been the second-smallest audience.

Nielsen measures viewership in 15-minute increments, and the 17.3 million viewers during the quarter-hour when Smith’s attack took place was virtually identical to the quarter-hour that followed.

Then the audience dipped to 16.8 million before rising to 17.4 million during the period Smith won his best actor award, Nielsen said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Nick Iannelli

Nick Iannelli can be heard covering developing and breaking news stories on WTOP.

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