Sky News host at center of Keegan Payne backlash apologies as social media accounts vanish

Sky News Australia has issued an apology to teen millionaire Keegan Payne after a controversial line of questioning by host Peter Stefanovic during a TV interview following the 19-year-old’s victorious Million Dollar Fish win.

Payne, from Katherine in the Northern Territory, appeared on the network’s First Edition with Stefanovic on Wednesday morning who, after celebrating the $1 million prize, quizzed the teen about an incident in his past.

The teenager was made to answer his troubled younger years admitting he’d been involved in a vehicle theft three years prior. His former boss Bob Cavanagh, who he’d been accused of stealing from, later told Yahoo News Australia there were “no hard feelings” and that Keegan was a “good and deserving kid.”

The live TV interview, and the treatment of Payne, received a wave of backlash with some on social media calling it “disgraceful.” On Friday afternoon, it appeared Stefanovic’s social media accounts, including X and Instagram, had been removed. Yahoo contacted Sky News Australia for confirmation.

Keegan Payne, 19, won $1 million after catching a huge barramundi in the Million Dollar Fish competition. Source: Supplied

The network has since issued a written apology to Keegan and his family which was shared on their website on Friday. The apology was on behalf of the network and also Mr Stefanovic himself, it said.

“During the interview, Mr Stefanovic asked Mr Payne questions about claims he had been involved in the theft of a Polaris Ranger and Polaris Quad from his former employer in 2021,” it reads

“Mr Payne confirmed the claims and apologized to his former employer on air. Mr Payne’s former employer subsequently told Sky News Australia that he did not proceed with police charges and had accepted Mr Payne’s apology.

“Sky News Australia and Peter Stefanovic apologize to Mr Payne and his family for raising these claims during the live interview about his million dollar win in the fishing competition,” it continues.

“Mr Stefanovic has reached out to Mr Payne and his family directly to convey his apology.”

The teen was on a fishing trip with family and a friend in the early hours of Sunday morning at Katherine River when he reeled in the fish. Source: Supplied

The young teen, from Katherine in the Northern Territory, found stardom this week after hooking a barramundi with a million-dollar price tag. The competition, which has been running for nine years, saw eight keen anglers score a prize of $10,000 each, with one lucky person, Payne, walking away with $1 million.

Accepting his prize on Tuesday, an elated Payne, who was accompanied by his parents and siblings, said he’s “really happy” admitting the win “means so much.”

“This is crazy for us, we’re a big family, there’s eight of us. This is more money than we could ever ask for. This is just great,” he said. “I can buy what I want, maybe help dad and mum out with the home loans.”

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