‘Scared’ Dogs star’s fake ‘nude’, $50k sex offer

Western Bulldogs young gun Bailey Smith has opened up on the frightening impact his meteoric rise to fame has had on his mental health.

The 20-year-old has spoken out on a podcast about a fake 'nude' picture released on AFL grand final day, before adding he was offered $50,000 to sleep with someone. He also spoke about his battle with panic attacks and revealed he's now on medication.

Smith says he's "scared of being judged" and finds it "easy to feel empty inside," while sharing with listeners how he copes with the challenges.

Smith's raw insight comes after he surpassed Sydney superstar Lance Franklin's 334,000 Instagram followers, giving him the second-highest number of all AFL players behind Richmond champion Dustin Martin's 338,000.

The Victorian started the year with 130,000 Instagram followers and has since climbed to 337,000.

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"There was a fake 'nude' of me that got shared around Australia,'' Smith said on the Common Chase podcast.

"This was like the day of the grand final, the biggest game of my life, and I get showed this photo by the boys. They knew it was Photoshopped… It was weird. It got sent around to everyone while I was playing and then after the game I put this actual photo up."

Smith posted the real picture accompanied with an eggplant emoji.

He was asked on the podcast if the fake 'nude' picture had played on his mind during the grand final, which the Bulldogs lost to Melbourne by 74 points.

"I completely left it there; I knew future Bailey can take care (of it)," Smith said.

"In the past – oh my god, that would send me off.

"I stopped reading (my direct messages) two weeks ago.

"I'm even getting these now. I don't know how they got my number. Sends a screenshot of his bank account, $50,000 to sleep with this person.

"It doesn't stop going. Then I've had the stock-standard (offers)."

Sizzling Smith snaps prelim goal

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While thousands of fans see Smith as superhuman, given his chiselled six-pack, flowing golden mullet and rapid rise to AFL stardom, he spends his free time like most other men in their early 20s.

"I don't know if it's a good coping mechanism, but I just don't deal with it,'' Smith said.

"I acknowledge it, I know it's there, it is the elephant in my brain, but I ignore it as much as I can.

"The things that ground me each day – I go get my coffee, going to the beach from 10 til 2, my best friends, getting dinner.

"I focus on what I want to do each day and what I want to get out of myself.

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"I don't open up that much because I'm scared of being judged and it's just something that's got to do with me. Fear of just being taken advantage of, as well... You can't just open up to anyone. So I don't do that, but it's been so refreshing over the past couple of days just to talk to you guys and not feel alone.

"There are so many people around you and wanting this and that from you (that) it's so easy to feel empty inside, as dark as that sounds."

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Smith has played 67 AFL games since being drafted to the Bulldogs from the Sandringham Dragons via pick seven in the 2018 national draft.

He's quickly developed into an elite midfielder, combining with the likes of Marcus Bontempelli, Jack Macrae, Adam Treloar and Josh Dunkley in one of the strongest on-ball brigades in the league.

He says a simple reminder helps him off the field.

"Just for my day-to-day and something that helps me when I'm having a panic attack or just having a down day: the sun will rise tomorrow," Smith said.

"Understanding that, whatever happens, the sun will rise. Life goes on. It's not that important. You're gonna die one day. It's such a small, minuscule part of your life. Just live it like it is.

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"The thing that opened up so many doors for me is, I don't know if it's cliche, is actually working on myself, and I started taking medication because that's something I didn't do for such a long time. (You think), 'I don't want to be weak, I can do it myself, it'll be so... rewarding if I just get through it'.

"I bit the bullet and understood and accepted that I wasn't right at the time. Opened up so many doors for me, in terms of school, my education went through the roof and then football, that's been my dream since I was a kid, my work ethic. Everything just tied together.

"That vulnerability opens up so many doors and, even if they're not the right doors, they're the ones for you."

Smith said he had been medicated for about five years.

"I think I was 15 (when I started on medication). It's pretty young, but I started being really in tune with how I'm feeling and why am I feeling this way, and I was lucky because my mum was good at helping me do that because she's more emotionally intelligent. In terms of wanting to be successful, it helps you with what you want to do."

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