Footage of competitor Luke Valentine using the slur aired on the series’ 24-hour live feed ― a supplement to the regular show airing on CBS ― and viewers began posting the clip on Twitter early Wednesday morning.
In the clip, Valentine drops the slur during a casual conversation with other contestants before covering his mouth and correcting himself, saying “dude.” He then turns to fellow contestant Jared Fields, who is Black and sitting nearby, and says “I’m sorry” while laughing.
CBS announced later Wednesday that it was ejecting Valentine from the show and that his removal would be discussed on an upcoming episode.
“Luke violated the BIG BROTHER code of conduct and there is zero tolerance in the house for using a racial slur,” the network said in a statement. “He has been removed from the house. His departure will be addressed in Thursday night’s show.”
Valentine’s removal comes early on in the show’s 25th season, which just began airing last week.
The show, which locks contestants in a house together under the premise that they must vote each other out until one person is left with a $750,000 cash prize, has been rife with racial incidents in the past. The 15th season, which aired in 2013, featured a cast member who made numerous racist and homophobic remarks, including calling a Black contestant “Aunt Jemima” and referring to Asians as “squinty-eyed.” Several of the other cast members made similarly offensive remarks.
CBS didn’t kick any contestants out, but Les Moonves, the network’s CEO and president of at the time, reflected after: “What you see there unfortunately is a reflection of how certain people feel in America,” and added he personally found the behavior “absolutely appalling.”
As the years went on, critics began pointing out the show’s problematic racial optics and the tendency for Black contestants to be among the first eliminated from the show.
In response, CBS announced in 2020 that going forward, 50% of the cast would be people of color. In 2022, contestant Taylor Hale became the first Black woman to win the competition.