We took a 'big risk' and failed: Fyre Festival co-founder speaks out

He promised refunds and free tickets to next year's event.

ByABC News
May 1, 2017, 7:34 AM

— -- The co-founder of Fyre Festival-- what was promoted as a once-in-a-lifetime musical event until organizers were forced to postpone it -- spoke out in an interview with ABC News, saying, "We took a big jump here, and a big risk, and V1 has failed."

The co-founder blames inclement weather for the festival's failure, but promises refunds and free tickets to next year's event for those who spent up to thousands of dollars on ticket packages to the festival in the Bahamas.

"We had this mega-thing on our hands and we never thought it would take the life that it did, so we went out to build what we now know is almost creating a city out of nothing," Billy McFarland, who co-founded Fyre Festival with rapper Ja Rule, told ABC News. "We had to install our own sewage and water. We bought an ambulance in New Jersey and drove it down to Florida then took it over in a boat to get here."

McFarland, a computer programmer and entrepreneur, said that the idea for Fyre Festival came when he and Ja Rule first went to an island in the Exuma Keys, Bahamas.

McFarland said they then launched a website and marketing campaign, "and all of a sudden we had thousands of people signing up to come," adding that it soon became "this incredible logistics challenge."

The Bahamas Ministry of Tourism said in a statement that they were "extremely disappointed," about how the events unfolded "with the Fyre Festival," and added that visitors "were met with total disorganization and chaos."

Scenes of chaos also played out on social media, as many festival-goers turned to Twitter to post photos of the disarray at the venue.

Model Bella Hadid, who appeared in promotional videos for the festival, also apologized to fans on Twitter, saying "Even though this was not my project what so ever ... I feel so sorry and badly because this is something I couldn't stand by."

McFarland explained that though they had sites built, "early Thursday morning a big storm came through and busted our water system and affected half of our housing tents."

He said that the artists booked "were in the loop during the entire decision process as we weighed the pros and cons and made the ultimate call of postponing the festival."

"How we're solving this is first of all guests have been taken home safely on planes, next everybody is being refunded for their ticket purchase, and everybody is getting a comp ticket to Fyre Fest 2018, which is taking place in May on a beach location in the United States."

McFarland adds that the "Bahamian government was an incredible partner," but ultimately "the task proved to be too large for the short amount of time we were trying to operate under."