Alas, John McAfee, We Hardly Knew Ye

There’s an outdated saying in journalism that goes one thing like: Scoundrels are far more enjoyable to cowl than normies. 

Say what you’ll about John McAfee—and as we speak, when information of his obvious suicide in a Barcelona jail seeped out, individuals stated loads—the 75 12 months outdated was a blast to cowl.

From his first entrance onto the nationwide stage in 1992, because the human face of the novel computer virus known as Michelangelo, he generated all the thrill and flimflam of the Music Man. By no means thoughts that the Michelangelo Virus turned out to be a hypefest—McAfee was in a position to capitalize on it massive time. The worldwide hysteria he provoked helped him launch an antivirus software program firm that, when he offered it a scant few years later, made him $100 million.

The whispers round McAfee in these early days—by no means confirmed, after all—have been that he labored with labs to create a few of these viruses.  That was in all probability trade jealousy: his software program was the very first to catch no matter new, obscure pc bug discovered its means onto a private pc. 

“Individuals saved saying I hyped this, I hyped this,” McAfee complained to me in 1992, shortly after the Michelangelo Virus turned out to be faux information. “I by no means contacted the press—they known as me.”

That is John David McAfee, the person who as soon as ran a service that revolved across the curious premise that, for those who paid him a membership payment and examined HIV-negative, you can have AIDS-free intercourse with different members for six months.  That is the person who jumped from organic viruses to pc viruses and shortly turned a flamboyant skilled on the new demi-plague, exhibiting up on the scene of contaminated PCs in his Winnebago ‘antivirus paramedic unit.’ “—From a 1992 Newsday story

McAfee thrived within the lawless, wild west of early know-how (and anywhere else he could find a wild west.) Crypto—proper right here in River Metropolis!—with its prepared market of credulous marks, fellow shillers, and contempt for the legislation was directly an ideal place for him to prospect, in addition to his final undoing. 

And we within the press? He by no means contacted us. We known as him.

McAfee made one of the best, most colourful copy. He claimed to have been arrested 21 instances for tax evasion, SEC violations, medication and different stuff. He was a suspect in a homicide in Belize, although he was by no means charged, which, I suppose, solely added to his outlaw mystique.

A McAfee story was all the time good for site visitors, particularly in the course of the darkish days of crypto winter. And we by no means wanted to contact him—he lived in social media, particularly Twitter, the place he fed us and his million followers a day by day diary’s price of updates on his unending antics.

In a 2018 profile, New York Journal dubbed him the spokesman for crypto. 


He famously claimed to have fucked a whale. And an ostrich. (He later backtracked on the whale; and the ostrich isn’t speaking.) He guess that Bitcoin can be price one million {dollars} by the top of 2020 or he’d eat his own dick. (He later clarified {that a} squadron of high-class escorts can be doing the presumptive dick-eating on his behalf.) For some time, he produced a collection of movies providing recipes of vomitous cocktails he’d concoct. 

He ran for president. He ran away from the legislation. He appeared to hold an arsenal’s price of weapons on his yacht, and claimed that the CIA was after him. He’s stated, too, to have experimented with “quantum suicide”—a form of one man’s Russian roulette, with a little bit of Schrödinger’s cat within the combine—and survived. 

After he was arrested for tax evasion final 12 months, he continued to make information through periodic “tweets from jail.” Shortly after his imprisonment in Spain in October, presaging as we speak’s reported suicide, he had an confederate tweet that studies of his demise have been enormously exaggerated. McAfee stated: “Know that if I cling myself, a la Epstein, it is going to be no fault of mine.”

Even on his technique to dying, he could not assist however rabble rouse.

However curiously, his final tweet, which got here per week in the past, and is pinned to his account, was absent his standard bluster. McAfee sounded defeated.


Then once more, if rumors crop up that John David McAfee was simply seen in Tahiti or New Guinea or a dive bar in Key West, surrounded by a cadre of lunatics and consuming a cocktail made with actual gunpowder, would anybody be shocked? Nah. With out the parable of outlaws, there’d be no wild west. And with out the wild west, the place would the remainder of us be?

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