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:
View this post on Instagram
Hello, folks. Rita and I are down here in Australia. We felt a bit tired, like we had colds, and some body aches. Rita had some chills that came and went. Slight fevers too. To play things right, as is needed in the world right now, we were tested for the Coronavirus, and were found to be positive. Well, now. What to do next? The Medical Officials have protocols that must be followed. We Hanks' will be tested, observed, and isolated for as long as public health and safety requires. Not much more to it than a one-day-at-a-time approach, no? We'll keep the world posted and updated. Take care of yourselves! Hanx!
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:
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:
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