He infuriated cricket fans after crashing disgraced Australian captain Steve Smith’s tearful press conference on Thursday to compare the ball-tampering scandal to a storyline on Married At First Sight.
And The Kyle and Jackie O Show’s ‘Intern’ Pete Deppeler has now broken his silence, insisting he only wanted to show Steve that ‘many Australians don’t think the world has ended’.
Pete explained his intention was to bring ‘a moment of light and warmth’ to an otherwise solemn situation when he joked that Steve’s cheating wasn’t as bad as the on-screen ‘affair’ between Davina Rankin and Dean Wells on MAFS.
Pete, who is a producer on the KIIS 106.5 breakfast show, told News.com.au he only wanted to diffuse the tension during Steve’s tearful public apology when he said Davina and Dean’s illicit relationship was ‘worse’ than ball-tampering.
‘It wasn’t my intention to make light of his personal situation, but to show him that the millions of Australians who aren’t obsessed with cricket empathise with him,’ he said in a statement.
‘Coming from all the Australians who don’t follow cricket and find it fascinating and even concerning that so much pressure has been placed on these players like Steve, I really did just want to inject a moment of light and warmth to what was such a serious situation.’
He added: ‘All week everyone had been acting like he was a criminal and I wanted to show him that many Australians don’t think the world has ended because of this tampering incident.’
Pete did acknowledge, however, that it hadn’t been the ‘best time’ to make a comment like that.
The bizarre incident happened on Thursday night when the suspended Australian cricket captain arrived at Sydney Airport after being handed a 12-month ban.
As a grave-faced Steve addressed the media, the embattled cricketer apologised repeatedly for his role in the ball-tampering incident.
While Steve answered questions from reporters, Pete interjected with a bizarre observation about the cricketing scandal.
‘Steve, I am going to take a different tack on this one – Intern Pete from the Kyle and Jackie O show here,’ he began. ‘I want to let you know the perspective from non-sports committing Australians, to see you upset tonight is very sad.
‘We asked our listeners, as I said we are not a sports show, we asked our listeners what we thought about this and we have… mate I’ve got to tell you, hold your head up a little bit high for what you have done.
‘Because what has actually been worse is what Dean and Davina did on Married At First Sight!’
As Steve appeared somewhat affronted by the strange comment, Pete was cut off by the press conference organisers.
Viewers were quick to react to Intern Pete’s interjection at the press conference, questioning whether it was appropriate for him to make a joke at the sombre event.
‘That Kyle and Jackie O muppet at the Steve Smith press conference can f**k right off,’ one person wrote on Twitter.
‘Kyle and Jackie O idiot – seriously? You knob,’ another observer tweeted.
A spokesperson for Australian Radio Network, the parent company that owns KIIS 106.5, said Intern Pete had ‘genuinely felt for Steve’ and ‘tried to inject some warmth to what was a difficult situation’.
‘The ball tampering incident has evoked an extraordinary reaction from a broad range of Australian audiences, both those who follow cricket, and those who don’t know anything about the sport,’ the spokesperson told Daily Mail Australia.
‘Obviously the majority of those asking questions at the airport tonight were sports journalists, unlike Intern Pete, so Pete’s question was framed for those who don’t follow cricket.’
On Wednesday, captain Steve Smith and vice captain David Warner were slapped with 12-month bans from the sport for their role in cheating during the third Test against South Africa.
An investigation by Cricket Australia found that Steve knew of David’s plan to get player Cameron Bancroft – who received a nine-month ban – to tamper with a ball using sandpaper during a game on Saturday.