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WrestleMania apologizes for using footage of Auschwitz in promotional spot

WrestleMania 39
Posted at 6:49 PM, Apr 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-04-08 18:49:57-04

(CNN) — World Wrestling Entertainment apologized Friday after using footage of Auschwitz, the infamous Nazi concentration and extermination camp, in a promotional spot for a hyped father-son match.

On Twitter, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial and Museum said it was hard to call it an "editing mistake."

"Exploiting the site that became a symbol of enormous human tragedy is shameless and insults the memory of all victims of Auschwitz," the organization tweeted.

The promotional video for WrestleMania 39 featured WWE wrestler Dominik Mysterio, who has an ongoing rivalry with his father, Rey Mysterio, and was "arrested" in December for pushing him.

"You think this is a game to me. I served hard time. And I survived," the younger Mysterio said. The ad then cuts to photos of prisons, one of which was Auschwitz, where Nazis murdered over 1 million people.

"We had no knowledge of what was depicted," the WWE said in a statement to CNN. "As soon as we learned, it was removed immediately. We apologize for this error."

The gaffe quickly caught the attention of social media users.

In later airings and reruns of the first night of WrestleMania, the footage showed an image of barbed wire.

WWE is known for its outlandish storylines. In this father-son rivalry, Dominik eventually turned on Rey, culminating in an altercation on Christmas Eve. The gag was that though Rey only spent a few hours in prison, he took on a hardened criminal persona.

Rey beat Dominikon Night 1 of WrestleMania 39 at SoFi Stadium in Los Angeles to "teach him a lesson about respect."

WWE said WrestleMania 39 was the most successful and highest-grossing event in company history, with over 500 million views and 11 million hours of video consumed over the two days.