Selling bootleg merchandise is illegal, but unless an unauthorized seller is making a ton of money off of it, copyright holders often don’t waste their time going after a small fish who isn’t making a dent in their bottom line. That’s why a recent Luke Combs situation raised some eyebrows… including those of the “Fast Car” singer himself.

Why was a Luke Combs fan sued for $250K over bootleg merchandise sales?

Tampa, Florida’s WFLA first brought attention to the story in a report shared yesterday, December 12. The fan, Nicol Harness, told the station that she’s a big fan of Combs, and that she sells homemade tumblers and T-shirts on Amazon, which is her sole source of income. After attending a Combs concert this summer, she started offering a Combs-themed tumbler on Amazon. She ultimately sold 18 tumblers for $20 each and made $380 in total. ($20 times 18 is equal to $360, not $380; WFLA reports Harness “sold 18 tumblers for $20 each,” but Harness told the station she made $380.)

Harness recently learned Combs sued her (and others) in federal court in Illinois for selling counterfeit merchandise. She only learned of the lawsuit after the case had closed, after finding an email in her junk folder from Combs’ attorney, which gave her 21 days to respond. Harness said she was in the hospital due to heart failure when the email was sent, and that it was sent to an email address she rarely checks. WFLA notes, “In Florida, the law required that you’re served notice of a lawsuit by a process server in person. The law recently changed in Illinois and email is now sufficient.”

Ultimately, the court ordered her to pay Combs $250,000.

Harness tearfully told WFLA, “It’s very stressful. I don’t have money to pay my bills. I just want this resolved. I didn’t mean any harm to Luke Combs. I quit selling the tumbler. I pulled it down. I just don’t understand.”

People were outraged by the story, like one X (formerly Twitter) user who wrote, “what the f*ck all she wanted to do was sell merch inspired by her favorite artist ? luke combs whoever the f*ck you are count your days country b*tch and the fact that u didn’t even send a cease and desist for GO TO HELLLLLLLL GOD I HATE CELEBRITIES LIKE THIS.”

What did Luke Combs say about suing a fan for $250K over sales of bootleg merchandise?

Combs, it turns out, also wasn’t a fan of what happened and says he actually had no idea what was going on, as he explained in a video shared this morning.

Combs explained that he woke up today and the first thing he saw was the WFLA report. He continued, “I spent the last two hours trying to make this right, trying to figure out what’s going on, because I was completely and utterly unaware of this.”

The country star then noted his manager reached out to the station to try getting a better understanding of the situation. Combs noted he does have a company that “goes after folks, only, supposedly, large corporations operating internationally that make millions and millions of dollars making counterfeit T-shirts, things of that, running illegal businesses,” saying that Harness “somehow gotten wrapped into that.” He added, “That makes me absolutely sick to my stomach.”

Combs said he got Harness’ phone number and talked to her, and reiterated, “Talking to her, I just… it makes me sick, honestly, that this would happen, especially at the holidays. I can’t imagine being in her shoes.”

Harness told Combs that due to the merch issue, she has $5,500 she’s currently unable to withdraw from her Amazon account, so Combs promised to double it and “send her $11,000 today, just so she doesn’t have anything to worry about.” Beyond that, he also declared he’s going to start selling his own tumbler and noted, “all that money’s going to go to Nicol and her family, to try to help with her medical bills.” Furthermore, he plans to invite Harness and her family out to one of his upcoming concerts so he can “give her a hug and say sorry in person.”

Combs wrapped up his video by explaining why he spoke out, saying, “It makes me sick for anybody to be thinking that I’m this kind of person, because I’m the farthest thing from it.”

This is a developing situation, so keep an eye on Combs’ social media account for updates about the tumblers he said he plans on selling.

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