A teenager dubbed by the internet as "egg-boy" has given his first interview since going viral for striking far-right Australian senator Fraser Anning with an egg, and has pledged that all funds raised in his name will be donated to victims of the New Zealand Christchurch tragedy.
Speaking on Australian talk show The Project, 17-year-old Will Connolly said: "I understand what I did was not the right thing to do; however, this egg has united people and money has been raised, tens of thousands of dollars has been raised for those victims."
Connolly spoke of how he was motivated by Anning's response to the attacks at the Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Islamic Centre in New Zealand.
He said: "After that tragedy in Christchurch, I thought the world should be supporting all those victims, giving them love and passion, and the senator released a statement which was pretty much a divisive hate speech, blaming the victims for the attack, and I was just flat-out disgusted."
The teenager from Melbourne also said that despite reading Anning's statement, he had initially attended the press conference with an open mind.
Connolly told The Project's Hamish Macdonald: "Not many people know this, but I actually went in there to listen to him for an hour, see if he'd change my mind as I'm a pretty forgiving person and in my mind I wanted to forgive him. But then he started saying some more things which I'm not going to quote — you can watch the livestream if you want to hear that — which empowered me to egg him."
When asked if he would describe himself as an activist, Connolly responded, "I don't know much about politics at all. I'm not pro any specific religion, I'm just pro humanity."
The incident, which has now been viewed by millions, showed Connolly striking the Queensland senator with an egg. Anning responded by punching the teenager twice in the face.
Anning was restrained while his supporters stepped in to tackle Connolly to the ground and hold him in a chokehold.
The response was criticised by some as excessive and disproportionate. Connolly told Macdonald that the incident unravelled quickly but his reaction was to "stay calm" and "not to resist."
When asked if he felt like he deserved to be hit by Anning, Connolly was measured in his response, saying: "I understand what I did was not the right thing to do. I can understand why some people would react the way they did."
The teenager was in agreement with some critics who condemned his actions as an inappropriate way to deal with a serving politician, saying, "There's no reason to physically attack anyone."
He said that his mother was also not entirely in support of his actions: "She's glad I stood up for what I believe in, but she definitely disagrees with the way I did it."
The incident has earned Connolly global admiration and support, but the attention hasn't all been to his liking: "It's blown up completely out of proportion to the point where it's kind of embarrassing," said Connolly.
"Too much attention is actually brought away from the real victims' suffering — we should be focusing on them," he added.
Connolly also said that the moniker "egg boy" isn't all that original and explained that he had been previously called the same name for different reasons.
He said: "Funnily enough I was actually called egg boy before this happened, as I'd eat boiled eggs at lunch and all the girls would be like, 'Get away from me, that reeks.'"
The viral star concluded the interview to say that he was no longer a fan of the protein source: "I'm officially off the eggs now."
Studio hosts clarified that the unlikely hero was not paid for his exclusive sit-down.
Ade Onibada is a junior reporter at BuzzFeed and is based in London.
Contact Ade Onibada at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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