CANBERRA, Australia (AP) — An Australian teen known around the world as “Egg Boy” conceded on Monday that egging a far-right senator was not the right thing to do, but said the gesture united a world reeling from a white supremacist’s alleged massacre of 50 Muslims in New Zealand.
Will Connolly, 17, gave his first television interview since becoming an online hero among many for cracking an egg on Sen. Fraser Anning’s head as the maverick legislator spoke at a news conference after a gunman killed or wounded 100 worshippers at two Christchurch mosques on March 15.
Anning has been widely criticized for blaming Muslim immigration for the racist attacks.
Connolly said he was embarrassed that the international attention he had attracted with the egging, which was caught on video, had distracted attention from the victims in Christchurch.
“I understand what I did was not the right thing to do, however this egg has united people and money had been raised — tens of thousands of dollars has been raised for those victims,” Connolly told Ten Network television’s “The Project” program.
A GoFundMe page set up to raise 2,000 Australia dollars ($1,400) to pay for Connolly’s “legal fees” and “more eggs” reached AU$80,000 on Monday.
Connolly said the money would go to Christchurch victims.
He said he hasn’t had time to think about how he will respond to offers from supporters such as a vacation in Turkey and a lifetime of free beer in Canada and Wales.
Australian Brenton Tarrant was arrested within an hour of the mosque shootings and has been charged with murder.
Anning came under blistering criticism over tweets within hours of the massacre, including one that said, “Does anyone still dispute the link between Muslim immigration and violence?”
“The real cause of the bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place,” he said in a later statement.
Police say the egging constituted an assault. But police are also investigating Anning, who retaliated by striking Connolly twice, and Anning’s supporters who roughly pinned the boy to the ground. No charges have yet been laid.
Anning later defended his actions, telling reporters, “He got a slap across the face, which is what his mother should have given him long ago, because he’s been misbehaving badly.”
Connolly said his mother had not approved of the egging.
“There’s no reason to physically attack anyone. She’s glad I stood up for what I believe in; she definitely disagrees with the way I did it,” Connolly said.
The government and opposition party have agreed to pass a censure motion against Anning over his Christchurch comments when Parliament resumes next week.
While such a reprimand is a symbolic gesture, the major parties expect to demonstrate how isolated Anning’s views are among Australia’s 226 federal lawmakers. The major parties’ support ensures the censure motion will be passed by both chambers.
Connolly said he is tiring of his celebrity and the nickname by which he is known around the world.
“I always prefer Will. Egg Boy is getting pretty annoying to be honest,” Connolly said.