The funny thing about Internet rabbit holes is that they very rarely contain rabbits. Rabbits, on the whole, are rather sweet, gentle, cuddly things. Rabbits do not, in my experience—and to take some examples absolutely at random—move abroad expressly to live under more relaxed sexual-assault laws, say, or threaten to choke any girlfriend who happens to answer back. But spend a couple of hours (or days, or months, or tens of thousands of dollars) sliding around the slippery warren that is Hustler’s University, and you’ll soon come face-to-face with a beast of an altogether less fluffy disposition.
The “university” in question (no relation to the magazine) is a virtual-learning community—only without much of a community and with hardly any learning. Conducted mainly via chat-room servers on Discord and Telegram message groups, the setup is perhaps best described as “Trump University for the TikTok era.” It’s a place where young men (it is always young men) can learn key skills in “Stocks, Crypto, E-commerce, Copywriting, and more,” in order to make tens of thousands of dollars per month online—all the while popping champagne bottles, holding guns, and wearing sunglasses in nightclubs near bored-looking girls, apparently.
At its center is Andrew Tate: the de facto dean of this wildly popular online “academy,” and a man who, just last month, racked up more Google searches than Kim Kardashian or Donald Trump.
Born in Chicago as Emory Andrew Tate III, Tate moved with his family to the U.K. when he was four years old—although in interviews he still maintains a creaky transatlantic accent, like Jordan Belfort with gum disease. Tate’s father was a master chess player, apparently, which Tate, now 35, mentions as if it were a hereditary condition. He also does quite a lot of kickboxing, which I barely need to mention because he so frequently does.
Other than that, the self-styled guru’s C.V. consists of little more than a one-week stint on the reality-television show Big Brother in 2016. Although his time was cut short after a tabloid video emerged of him appearing to hit a woman with a belt, and another in which he asked a girlfriend to count the bruises he had apparently given her. (Tate denied there was anything violent about the videos, and claimed the acts were consensual.) But now Tate’s here to make you rich—if you’ll just stop being such a pussy about it for half a second.
“There’s been a small tear in the fabric of the Matrix,” booms the Hustler’s University prospectus. “And out of the billions of people on this planet, YOU are so lucky to see it.” “Lucky,” as with every adjective in the H.U. orbit, is a relative term. Packages at this rickety-rackety online community include a $47-a-month educational subscription, a $408 Ph.D. (or “Pimpin’ Hoes Degree,” according to one graduate), and even a $5,018 “War Room” membership—more on that later.
But the courses don’t always leave alumni swimming in school spirit. “Do you like being insulted by someone you buy a product from?” writes one disgruntled enrollee, while another warns that “the training is absolute trash.” Meanwhile, in a post that bashes the course with “99 Reasons” not to enroll, one former student berates H.U. as “a complete and utter scam from start to finish”—before going on to flog a get-rich-quick scheme of his very own using almost identical methods. “Discover: the best way to make money online!”
A tabloid video emerged of him appearing to hit a woman with a belt.
You’d call that irony if Hustler’s University wasn’t so completely allergic to it. (The general mood board seems to be “Dan Bilzerian does Power Rangers,” while Tate refers to himself as “King Cobra” or “Morpheus” in videos long on explosions.) But more troubling is the way in which Tate has become so inexplicably omnipresent on certain social-media platforms. On TikTok, for example, the guru’s acolytes are instructed to flood the feed with short videos of him, and to share his most odious and divisive clips in order to achieve maximum engagement—and so, eventually, to promote more sign-ups to the university’s various schemes.
These little grenades—full of such bon mots as “If your girl starts acting up, then you fuck her friends”—have combined to make one gargantuan mushroom cloud. The algorithm loves Tate. (“It’s bang out the machete, boom in her face and grip her by the neck. Shut up, bitch,” Tate is heard proffering in one much-shared clip, where he describes confronting a girlfriend who has accused him of cheating.) The clips have been watched more than 11 billion times, while in less than three months, according to The Guardian, around 127,000 young men have signed up to Tate’s courses, netting him millions in the process. (Small fry, perhaps, for Tate, who in a recent interview claimed to be the “world’s first trillionaire.” Arithmetic, needless to say, is not on the syllabus.)
Tate has admirers in high places, too, depending on your definition of “high places.” He has appeared on conspiracy theorist Alex Jones’s podcast Infowars, popped into Trump Tower to grease about with Donald Trump Jr., and has “hung out … untold times” with the highly controversial British anti-Islam activist Stephen Yaxley-Lennon, whom he described in an interview as a “solid guy.”
But back to the campus. Things reach their sweaty peak in the university’s “War Room,” which costs more than $4,800 per student to enter and makes up the “greatest global network which exists on planet earth,” where “every member has either achieved or is working towards the ultimate goal of all intelligent men: freedom in a world of slavery.” (The Bilderberg Meeting for incels, then.)
The War Room is essentially a series of Telegram message groups filled with men in fedoras and cosplay tactical clothing, sold on the wide-eyed rhetoric of their street preacher. “The War Room is for men who understand something is missing,” its Web site states. “There is a level of human existence that very few people get to experience”—a level which, if the recruitment video is anything to go by, consists mainly of lighting cigars on hotel patios while wearing pointy shoes.
The clips have been watched more than 11 billion times.
There are sporadic in-person meetups too. One of these is held in Romania—a location of slightly lower cachet, perhaps, than London or Dubai, which it’s mentioned alongside. But this is Tate’s current place of work and play. He moved to the country with his brother, Tristan, in 2017 after declaring that the U.K. “had gone downhill,” and quickly started a “cam girl” company. According to The Mirror, the pair “are raking in millions from webcam sites where men hand over a fortune as they fall for models’ fake sob stories.” Air Mail reached out to Tate for comment, but did not get a response.
The business is essentially a farm of lingerie-clad women who take money from insecure, starved-for-attention men around the world at a rate of $4 a minute. Tristan allegedly told the Sunday Mirror that “it’s all a big scam,” before bragging that the authorities couldn’t do much about it, or simply didn’t care. This chimes with Tate’s other reason for moving to Bucharest: as he admitted in a since deleted YouTube video, the Romanian police are far less likely to pursue rape charges.
In April of this year, however, the authorities raided the brothers’ Romanian property, as part of a human-trafficking investigation. In the end, no charges were brought. “No girls were found in my house,” Tristan later told the Daily Beast, in one of those denials that almost sounds worse than an admission.
The Romanian webcam business looks at first to be of a different flavor than the Hustler’s University ruse. But the two emanate from the same swampy corner of modern life: namely, the armies of proudly misogynist young men, starved of sunlight and self-respect. You can wring your hands about them in op-eds and decry toxic masculinity on podcasts, or you can flog them moody crypto courses and provide them with semi-naked models who’ll pretend to care. Say what you want about Tate (and almost everyone has this week), but he at least appears to innately understand this growing cohort. The irony is, for a man who talks so much about empowering men and championing their nature, Tate is far better at exploiting both.
To hear Joseph Bullmore reveal more about his story, listen to him on Air Mail’s Morning Meeting podcast
Joseph Bullmore is a Writer at Large for AIR MAIL and the editor of Gentleman’s Journal in London