It’s been more than a few months since Pizza Rat graced the Internet with its presence, sparking a seemingly endless amount of impersonators ranging from Milkshake Squirrel to Bagel Bird.

But what if everything we knew about the OG Pizza Rat was a hoax? According to actor and Upright Citizens Brigade (UCB) improv theater member Eric Yearwood, that’s a huge possibility. Why? Because Yearwood himself was hired to take part in a staged attempt at a pizza rat-inspired viral video.

Yearwood claims he was paid $200 to act in the “Seflie Rat” video, where a subway rat somehow managed to take a selfie with a frightened Yearwood’s cell phone. He opened up to a local Fox affiliate where he explains the woman who hired him, Zardulu, had a whole plan set for him to be in her viral video. Yearwood says,

“She said she was a NYC-based performance artist and wanted help with a project and was going to pay me a little bit of money. You get weird casting calls and stuff all the time, so I didn’t really think too much of it, and when she described the project to me, it seemed pretty weird. Especially the part where there wasn’t going to be any sort of revelation at the end of it. I would not be able to take credit for it and neither would she.”

While it’s completely possible a person left a slice of pizza out and someone else caught the amazing moment on camera, there is one fact that particularly stands out about this claim. The Pizza Rat video was filmed by a man named Matt Little. The name might mean nothing to you but it’s his background that is a cause for interest. Just like Yearwood and other actors who claim Zardulu asked them to act in her videos, Little is a member of UCB. But he explains to Gothamist that his video had nothing to do with the woman. He explains,

[pullquote]”My friend Pat and I saw a rat dragging pizza down the subway stairs at 3 a.m. If this woman [Zardulu] was involved, she’d have to have been one of the homeless people in the subway.”[/pullquote]

When Gothamist reached out to Zardulu for a comment, she expressed she wasn’t interested in the interview but she did leave reporters with this message:

“I anticipated a betrayal, as I was threatened with such, but not from anyone with this email. I think there are better stories to tell. Why wake the world from a beautiful dream when the waking world is all so drab?”

Good point. But it’s important to reflect on the reason why these videos kept coming in the first place. Handfuls of people began creating the pizza rat inspired videos because it was a guaranteed shot at success. By racking in millions of views for reach video, a person posting a video could make a good amount of cash in a short period of time. Gothamist notes that by signing a contract with Jukin Media, Little has been able to make “somewhere between zero [and] 8 billion dollars” off licensing rights.

But at the end of the day, no matter if the video is real or just a hoax, it’s a fact that Pizza Rat will forever go down in NYC ‘za history.

[via Gothamist]