A viral interview with a popular food critic has cultivated online debate over respecting boundaries when pursuing a relationship.
Foodie and former MMA fighter Keith Lee faced criticism on Twitter for bragging about lying to his wife and disregarding that she was in a long-term relationship with another man while he tried to court her. Lee revealed the details of their dating story during a Feb. 16 “KevOnStage Studios” podcast interview.
Lee and his wife have been married since 2019, and they share two children together. However, the influencer, who’s known for his video food reviews, said his wife, Ronni, was not interested in him romantically when they initially met. The pair hit it off as friends initially while working at a shoe store.
Later Lee’s attraction grew when he got a glimpse of Ronni, who normally wore baggy clothes, in body-hugging leggings. He admitted that he lied about his financial status and being a professional trainer to try to impress her.
“I told her I am rich, and I’m only working at the job for fun,” Lee told the podcasters.
The influencer went on to tell a story of a friend who knew someone at a hookah lounge that would let them party for free, so he planned a night out with Ronni and her female friends. However, when they arrived at the lounge, admission was not free, and they still had to wait in line, contrary to what they were promised.
When Lee realized that they also had to pay for alcoholic beverages that he could not afford, he acted as though he didn’t like the venue and suggested that they go to his friend’s house, where they could drink for free.
“I played it off,” the food critic said.
Lee also said that he suspected Ronni may have been on to him but kept it to herself.
“She was very supportive,” he added.
Lee said he then voluntarily invited himself to her home where he stayed for two days because he suffered from alcohol poisoning.
While Ronni eventually left her partner and entered a relationship with him, Lee admitted that he cheated on her excessively while she was committed to him and could not secure steady employment. Nevertheless, after a break, the couple reunited, got married and started a family, and have been a subject of admiration on social media, where the pair have not been shy about expressing their love and devotion for each other.
“I am so blessed and so happy I get to share my PERSON to the world ! Everyone else sees the kind God fearing man you are and it just goes to prove God saw me through when choosing you,” Ronnie wrote in Father’s Day tribute to Lee.
However, Lee became a trending topic on Twitter after one user said she was disturbed by the couple’s love story.
“Watched Keith lee telling his love story about him and his wife and idk.. that sh-t kinda toxic imo. He lied about being rich to impress her? He continuously harassed & chased after her after she expressed her disinterest and desire for him to leave her alone?” Wrote @StillAStrangerr.
The July 7 tweet was viewed more than 1.2 million times by July 8.
StillAStrangerr questioned why no one else raised questions about what she calls Lee’s alarming behavior and nonchalant attitude about it during the interview.
“He’s so disgusting?? He almost seems proud,” she wrote in response to Lee’s comments about cheating on his wife while she was his girlfriend.
Thousands of users chimed in with their opinion on the video in response to StillAStrangerr and in separate tweets. Some condemned the woman for speaking against Lee while he has been dedicating his content to promoting Black businesses that have seen a boost in traffic and revenue because of his social media page’s virality.
“Every single time someone starts to get some kind of fame y’all create fake issues,” wrote one user.
Some said the outrage was an attempt to cancel Lee.
“Wait this Keith Lee info from his interview in March and coincidentally when he was just crying over his wife y’all dig it up for discourse? Y’all are very miserable and weird people,” wrote another user.
Other users defended Lee, 27, pointing out that he was young and more susceptible to struggling with decision-making.
While many Twitter users in the conversation defended Lee, others agreed that the interview was peculiar and alarming.
One Twitter user also raised questions about the food critic’s revelation that he flushed his wife’s birth control down the toilet so that they could conceive their first child.
However, Lee is not the first public figure who has admitted to going out of their way to end a relationship to date a woman. Former NFL star Shannon Sharpe admitted in a video that went viral in April that he met a woman he “believed was the one,” so he paid for her divorce.
“I told her and her husband why you arguing over this little bit of money,” Sharpe said. It is unclear if he later married that woman.