Chinese Table Tennis Olympian Zhang Jike Embroiled in Gambling Scandal

The former table tennis champ is in trouble over alleged gambling debts and private videos of his celebrity ex-girlfriend, Jing Tian, that he reportedly shared with a creditor

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5:23 AM HKT, Thu April 6, 2023 1 mins read

Several major brands have cut ties with Chinese table tennis star Zhang Jike, a three-time Olympic gold medalist, after online rumors suggesting he had massive gambling debts and had shared private videos of his former girlfriend, Chinese actress Jing Tian, were confirmed by investigative journalist Li Weiao.

The accusations have been circulating on the internet for weeks, but things only got serious when Li, an award-winning journalist at The Economic Observer, confirmed the allegations on March 31. Zhang’s agent denied the rumors on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo earlier that same day.

Li posted on Weibo that he had obtained juridical materials that proved Zhang had sent Jing’s personal videos to others. According to Li, Zhang leaked three videos and one screenshot, presumably as a pledge, and gave an IOU worth more than 5 million RMB (over 700,000 USD) to a creditor.

On April 1, Li posted again on Weibo, stating that the case was a serious criminal matter rather than celebrity gossip and that Jing was the victim. Li’s Weibo posts subsequently went viral, and the veteran reporter allegedly faced online harassment, with his family and himself threatened and insulted online.

Chinese actress Jing Tian had private content shared with a creditor to whom her ex-boyfriend, Chinese table tennis star Zhang Jike, allegedly owed money to

Chinese actress Jing Tian had private content shared with a creditor to whom her ex-boyfriend, Chinese table tennis star Zhang Jike, allegedly owed money to

The following day, Li wrote a lengthy post on his WeChat account explaining why he published the previous posts and provided proof to back up his claims, including a screenshot of the IOU.

He claimed he had known about Zhang’s case since 2020 and had been investigating it for years. Li revealed that Zhang’s creditor had attempted to blackmail Jing using the personal videos, asking her to pay the debt for her ex-boyfriend.

Instead of paying up, the actress took the creditor to court in 2020. The creditor pleaded guilty and was given a seven-year sentence.

On April 3, the Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission responded to the case, asking authorities to take these accusations seriously and thoroughly investigate Zhang.

Since the news broke, brands, including Anta Sports, FAW Toyota, Nutrend, and Nivea, have begun to sever ties with Zhang, deleting related promotional materials from their social media accounts.

Zhang Jike of China returns a shot at the Perfect 2016 World Team Table-tennis Championships held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2016

Zhang Jike returns a shot at a table tennis tournament held in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, in 2016

Netizens have also turned against the table tennis star, with some fans digging up past accusations of false advertising against Zhang’s co-founded milk tea brand and earlier details of his gambling history.

Many social media users cautioned others to shift the focus away from Jing and protect her reputation. Some fans shared encouraging notes under Jing’s posts on Douyin, China’s version of TikTok.

Zhang was the fastest player ever to win a Grand Slam. The 35-year-old retired table tennis player won many fans through his game performances, appearances on reality TV shows, and his relationship with Jing.

Zhang and Jing broke up in June 2019, the same year he retired from professional table tennis.

All images via Depositphotos

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