Below Deck attracts a veritable swath of D-listers, from wannabe influencers to the queen of Versailles. A few episodes ago on this season, our charter guests were a group of superrich kids in their early 20s, including University of Nevada, Las Vegas quarterback Max Gilliam. One of their requests involved eating sushi off a nude model — a Japanese practice called nyotaimori — so on episode three, “Max and Dax’s Excellent Adventure,” eat sushi off a nude model they did. Now, Gilliam is sorry for the incident. “I would like to apologize for my poor judgement while on the TV show Below Deck and acknowledge that I have made a mistake that I will learn from,” he tweeted on December 7, after the Las Vegas Review-Journal wrote about Gilliam’s appearance. He claimed in his apology that the sushi idea “was brought up by the producers,” but he and his friends did snap copious photos with the model on the episode. “This is not a reflection of my character or the way I was raised nor a reflection of the culture of UNLV Football,” he added.
Gilliam’s coach, Marcus Arroyo, meanwhile, claimed he didn’t know about the episode (which aired November 16) until the story and Gilliam’s apology. “Each of our players, especially our senior leadership, must recognize that when we go out in public we’re representing this team, this university and the alumni and fan base,” Arroyo told ESPN Las Vegas in a statement. “How we conduct ourselves in public is just as important as how we do on the field. I was made aware of Max’s recent statement and it is apparent that he also agrees.” The team faces the University of Hawaii in their final game on December 12.
But chef Rachel Hargrove, who studied sushi in Japan and was eager to impress the guests, said it all might be a misunderstanding. “Max & Dax along with the rest of their guest were lovely and very polite and courteous to the crew of #BelowDeck,” she tweeted in response to reporting on Gilliam’s apology. “I understand why some could be courious [sic] and not understand the tradition of Nyotaimori.” Hargrove also posted a Food & Wine article on the practice, which claimed “its visual appeal is considered an art form,” but some see it as objectifying women. (Back in season five, though, guests also ate sushi off deckhand Bruno Duarte.) “I cant belive Max go in trouble over sushi night,” she added. Because if anything, they should’ve gotten in trouble for pairing the sushi with Jell-O shots, right?