Fact Check: Australian Hospital Staff Did NOT Roll In A Wilson Volleyball To Keep Tom Hanks Company In Quarantine

Fact Check

  • by: Ryan Cooper
Fact Check: Australian Hospital Staff Did NOT Roll In A Wilson Volleyball To Keep Tom Hanks Company In Quarantine

Did Australian Gold Coast hospital staff roll in a Wilson volleyball to keep actor Tom Hanks company in quarantine? No, that's not true: The story is from a satirical online newspaper that some people have described as Australia's version of "The Onion." Fans of the movie "Castaway" will recognize the ball as "Wilson," an imaginary character in the form of a volleyball who kept Hanks' character company after his plane crashed and he washed ashore on a deserted island.

The claim originated in an article published by The Betoota Advocate on March 12, 2020, titled "Gold Coast Hospital Staff Roll In A Wilson Volleyball To Keep Tom Hanks Company In Quarantine -- The Betoota Advocate" (archived here). It opened:

After 20 years, the Cast Away sequel the world has been waiting for has finally arrived.

Just like the first smash hit, the next Cast Away film will feature Tom Hanks stranded on a South Pacific Island - except this time, the island is Australia!

The news breaks after it was confirmed Tom Hanks and his wife Rita Wilsons have been taken into a Gold Coast Hospital after being diagnosed with COVID-19.

Users on social media only saw this:

Gold Coast Hospital Staff Roll In A Wilson Volleyball To Keep Tom Hanks Company In Quarantine -- The Betoota Advocate

WENDELL HUSSEY | Cadet | CONTACT After 20 years, the Cast Away sequel the world has been waiting for has finally arrived. Just like the first smash hit, the next Cast Away film will feature Tom Hanks stranded on a South Pacific Island - except this time, the island is Australia! The news breaks after it was confirmed Tom ...

Hanks and his wife Rita Wilson announced on Instagram on March 11, 2020, that they had tested positive for the coronavirus and were remaining in isolation in Australia:

The Betoota Advocate is a satirical website, but it does not come with an explicit satire disclaimer. On December 26, 2017, The New York Times ran a feature about the founders:

The Betoota Advocate, a Fake News Site Australians Really Love

For three years Mr. Overell and Mr. Parker have remained steadfastly in character as proprietors of a rural newspaper. Often compared to the satirical news site The Onion, The Betoota Advocate has become the sardonic voice of disenchanted millennial Australians.

So, readers should not believe anything the site says without checking it first.

A reverse image search revealed the source of the photo in the article: Hanks and Wilson the volleyball were "reunited" at New York Rangers ice hockey game on February 4, 2015, according to USA Today:

screen-shot-2015-02-06-at-12-34-09-pm.jpg

We wrote about The Betoota Advocate before. Here are our most recent articles that mention the site:

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Lead Stories is working with the CoronaVirusFacts/DatosCoronaVirus Alliance, a coalition of more than 100 fact-checkers who are fighting misinformation related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the alliance here.


  Ryan Cooper

Ryan Cooper, a staff writer and fact-checker for Lead Stories, is the former Director of Programming at CNN International, where he helped shape the network's daily newscasts broadcast to more than 280 million households around the world. He was based at the network's Los Angeles Bureau. There, he managed the team responsible for a three-hour nightly program, Newsroom LA.

Formerly, he worked at the headquarters in Atlanta, and he spent four years at the London bureau. An award-winning producer, Cooper oversaw the network's Emmy Award-winning coverage of the uprising in Egypt in 2011. He also served as a supervising producer during much of the network's live reporting on the Israel-Hezbollah conflict in 2006, for which CNN received an Edward R. Murrow Award.

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