An online petition to reinstate embattled “Top Gear” host Jeremy Clarkson has garnered over 500,000 signatures at the time of this publishing and temporarily crashed the site hosting it.
The Change.org petition launched on Tuesday simply reads, “We the undersigned petition the BBC to reinstate Jeremy Clarkson. Freedom to fracas. #BringBackClarkson.”
Within a day, the cause has exceeded its goal of 500,000 signatures, compelling its organizer to revise its objective to 1,000,000. According to multiple media reports, the petition is one of the fastest growing in the site’s history. At the time of this publishing, the petition started by blogger Guido Fawkes (real name: Paul Staines) had attracted 556,410 supporters and resulted in timeout errors over a period of hours due to the overwhelming response.
Fans of the popular British series were not happy after the BBC suspended Clarkson for allegedly getting into a “fracas” with a producer, whom he allegedly tried to punch in the face while filming last week.
Next Sunday’s episode of “Top Gear” was scheduled to be filmed on Wednesday, but production has been canceled. No more episodes will be broadcast while an investigation is carried out.
Since it first aired in the U.K. in 2002, “Top Gear” has grown from a straightforward show about cars into a global phenomena watched by 350 million viewers in 170 countries. Clarkson is paid about $1.5 million a year to present the show, making him one of the network’s most highly-paid employees.