Gawker will instead donate the funds to four local charities as part of its "Plan B," according to a post on Thursday by editor-in-chief John Cook.
"As you may recall, roughly six weeks ago we succeeded in raising $200,000 from readers in an effort to purchase and publish a video of Toronto Mayor Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine," Cook wrote. "I'm disappointed to announce definitively that the money won't be going to purchase and publish a video of Rob Ford smoking crack cocaine."
Cook conceded last month that the purported video "might be gone" and that his original contact "went silent" following intense global media interest and coverage of the story.
Donors gave $201,199 to Gawker through the online crowdfunding service Indiegogo. Cook as well as two journalists from the Toronto Star reported that they had viewed the footage, and that a person in Etobicoke wishing to sell the video wanted $200,000 for a copy.
'We are pushing the Plan B we laid out'
The mayor has denied any such video exists and dismissed the reports as "ridiculous." A video has never been made public and CBC News has not viewed the video nor can it verify its authenticity.
In his update on Thursday, Cook wrote "we are pushing the Plan B we laid out," which was to donate the funds to Canadian charities if the video couldn't be bought.
After subtracting Indiegogo's service fees for hosting the campaign, the total haul amounts to $184,782.61.
The funds will be split four ways, with $46,195.65 going to these four organizations:- The Somali Canadian Association of Etobicoke
- The South Riverdale Community Health Centre
- Unison Health and Community Services
- Ontario Regional Addictions Partnership Committee