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Phish fan says he was banned from MSG for bong rips at Las Vegas Sphere

Attention Phish fans: Smoking a bong at the Las Vegas Sphere is at your own risk.

A Phish fan who boasted in April about taking the “first bong hit ever” at the Sphere – and posted a viral video of it – now says he has received a letter from Madison Square Garden Entertainment's lawyers banning him from the venue and all other MSG facilities.

In an image of the alleged letter posted on an Instagram account called @acid_farts, an MSG attorney told the unnamed account holder that the company “will not tolerate any actions that threaten the safety of our guests.”

“You knowingly violated the Guest Code of Conduct by smoking visibly in the venue,” Christopher Schimpf, MSG's deputy general counsel, wrote in the June 3 letter. “As a result of your conduct, you are hereby indefinitely barred from entering Madison Square Garden, Radio City Music Hall … and all other MSG venues.”

The alleged letter, reposted by popular Phish fan account @phunkyourface, urged the alleged bong ripper to “refrain from entering or attending any MSG locations in the future.” Should he do so, “law enforcement will be contacted to ensure your exclusion and you will be subject to appropriate penalties.”

When asked, a spokeswoman for MSG said: Billboard accepted the letter and declined to comment further.

When MSG threatens to banish, it's not just a big deal. The company has made headlines over the past two years for using facial recognition technology to ban certain people from the famed Manhattan arena, including attorneys for plaintiffs who had filed lawsuits against the company.

The use of such technologies for security purposes is widespread and largely considered legal. The lawsuits brought by lawyers excluded from MSG have largely been unsuccessful. However, some civil rights experts and politicians have drawn criticism, fearing that the technology could compromise privacy and be used for punitive purposes.

The Sphere, a $2.3 billion immersive concert hall with LED screens stretching 250 feet above and around the audience, opened in Las Vegas last fall. Following a 40-show run by U2, Phish became the second band to play the state-of-the-art arena with four shows in April, offering the unique sets and trippy visuals that the Vermont jam band's devoted fan base has come to expect.

On April 20, Instagram account @acid_farts posted a clip purporting to show him at one of these shows, taking a hit from a large glass water bong to the applause of surrounding fans. His caption: “First bong hit ever smoked at @spherevegas @phish. Someone call @guinessworldrecords.” The video itself garnered 447 likes; when @phunkyourface reposted it a day later, it received another 4,773 thumbs up from Phish followers.

But MSG apparently wasn't so amused. In his June 3 letter, Schimpf noted that “you posted an Instagram video of yourself smoking in the Sphere,” before reproducing the post's exact caption. He warned that the man was now banned not only from the company's venues, but also “from the box office, Chase Square, and concierge areas” of the Manhattan Arena.

No one wants to be excluded from MSG's venues – the company also owns the Beacon Theater in New York and the Chicago Theater in Chicago – but such a decision is particularly problematic for a Phish fan. In 2017, the band played a famous 13-night run at MSG called “The Baker's Dozen,” and their New Year's Eve concerts at the midtown arena are an annual tradition for Phish fans. In recent years, Phish frontman Trey Anastasio has also performed at Radio City and The Beacon.

After the ban letter was announced, Phish fans took to social media to mock the effort to enforce a smoking ban at Phish concerts, which are known for their liberal stance on drug use. In a post on X, user @MinnieFluff shared a picture of Anastasio at a soundcheck in front of an empty MSG: “The remaining crowd at Phish NYE 2026 after MSG Entertainment used facial recognition to ban anyone who has ever smoked in their venues.”

The owner of the account @acid_farts seems unfazed by MSG's threats. In a note beneath the image of the letter, he simply wrote: “The Sphere sent me a plaque to commemorate what is now officially the first bong hit ever taken in The Sphere.”

Neither the owner of @acid_farts nor @PhunkYourFace immediately responded to direct messages from Billboard looking for a comment.