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Washington Loses $250 Million GTA: San Andreas Lawsuit

Posted on November 2, 2012 AT 10:22am

A former backing singer for hip-hop group Cypress Hill has lost a $250 million lawsuit with Rockstar and parent company Take-Two over his likeness being used for CJ from Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas.

Michael “Shagg” Washington claimed that his likeness and life story had been used as inspiration for the character. The claim was made two years ago and now a California appeals court has ruled in Rockstar’s favor. According to the Hollywood Reporter, Washington was unable to provide enough evidence to prove that CJ was based off of him.

He revealed that Rockstar had interviewed him and asked about his life as a gang member prior to the game being released. His name even appears in the game’s credits as a model, however this wasn’t enough to convince the court. “[The] plaintiff is relying entirely on CJ’s physical appearance in the game, but that appearance is so generic that it necessarily includes hundreds of other black males,” Washington was told by a Superior County judge.

The judge added that evidence such as copied tattoos, a birthmark, or any other defining feature would have been enough, however Washington was unable to provide any such evidence.

Matthew Bennett, Associate Editor
Matthew Bennett finally got his big break with EGM three years ago, following years of volunteer work for various sites. An ability to go many hours without sleep and a quick wit make him ideal for his role as associate editor at He often thinks back to the days when the very idea of this career seemed like nothing but an impossible dream. Follow him on Twitter @mattyjb89. Meet the rest of the crew.

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