New York City's Union Square overrun with fans, chaos ensues as 'King of Twitch' Kai Cenat announces impromptu giveaway

Kai Cenat at TwitchCon 2022
(Image credit: Robin L Marshall (Getty))

Kai Cenat, the newly-crowned King of Twitch, announced on Instagram and Twitter today that he was doing a "big New York IRL stream" at 3:30 pm ET today, complete with some kind of videogame giveaway. "Be there!" he said, and they were—literally thousands turned out for a shot at seeing the streamer and getting some stuff.

Union Square quickly filled with people, leaving traffic unable to move; police, who according to ABC News had no advance notice of the event, were almost immediately overwhelmed. In fairly short order, the crowd turned unruly, and some minor injuries were reported.

(Image credit: Kai Cenat (Twitter))

One witness told the site that Cenat was going to hand out PlayStation 5 consoles and accessories, although it's not clear whether any giveaway took place. An SUV that was presumed to be carrying Cenat eventually fled the scene at relatively high speed, with a number of people sitting on or clinging to it; several fell off and landed hard as the vehicle sped away. 

It's not clear whether Cenat was actually in the car, but police reported shortly afterward that he was no longer in the area. Many in the crowd actually thought the police had put Cenat on a bus to protect him, but the police said it was actually being used to hold and transport people who had been arrested.

Later in the afternoon, Sky News reported that Cenat was "in custody."

In a press briefing, NYPD chief of department Jeffrey Maddrey said "quite a few" arrests were made, and confirmed that Cenat is currently in custody and being questioned about the event. Maddrey said the NYPD's legal department is looking into possible charges, including inciting a riot. He also suggested the NYPD will look into stepping up its monitoring of social media, saying, "We can't allow this to happen again in the future."

Correction: The article originally indicated that the incident occurred in Times Square. It was actually Union Square. 

Andy Chalk

Andy has been gaming on PCs from the very beginning, starting as a youngster with text adventures and primitive action games on a cassette-based TRS80. From there he graduated to the glory days of Sierra Online adventures and Microprose sims, ran a local BBS, learned how to build PCs, and developed a longstanding love of RPGs, immersive sims, and shooters. He began writing videogame news in 2007 for The Escapist and somehow managed to avoid getting fired until 2014, when he joined the storied ranks of PC Gamer. He covers all aspects of the industry, from new game announcements and patch notes to legal disputes, Twitch beefs, esports, and Henry Cavill. Lots of Henry Cavill.