Sephardic Shock: New update to FTDNA’s MyOrigin

FTDNA has rolled out the long-awaited update to their MyOrigins ethnicity estimator–and it includes Sephardic in the reference panel! I was shocked to see such a high percentage of Sephardic in my results, which had merely been suggested by GEDmatch before, but in a smaller amount. Disappointingly, I found some changes in other catagories that raised an eyebrow. I have to question whether this Sephardic component can be considered accurate.

I would love to hear your thoughts on whether the accuracy of FTDNA’s MyOrigins has improved with their new version. Weigh in on the comments section below! 


I got excited when I saw the 11% Sephardic component. GEDmatch had suggested there was significant Sephardic ancestry in my Ashkenazi grandfather. This family line has y-DNA tested as being Mizrahi in origin, surprisingly. Haplogroup R-M124 very well could have entered Europe through Sephardic lands like Roman Italy and Spain, based on the historical evidence.

Then I saw they had me as 0% Western European–before I was 42%, and Ancestry has me at 48%. The entire category has disappeared in the updated results. This is an issue because I have lots of Western European ancestors in my tree, including some relatively recent immigration from Pomerania, Germany.
Furthermore, they clocked me in at almost 1/4 Southeastern European (Greece, Italy, Balkan). I have an extensive tree with no know ancestry from any of these regions. This is also clearly problematic.

However, some results appear to have genuinely improved with the new update. 

My Scandinavian used to be grossly underestimated at 2%, and is now 17%. This is more in line with my tree, having recent immigration from Norway.

Eastern European went from 21% to 7%. This is probably also more accurate.

Additionally, the increased British Isles checks out compared to what I know about my tree. I have recent immigration from Lincolnshire, England on one branch. Prior to the update, FTDNA had me at 0% British Isles.

Because of the total disappearance of Western European when it should be close to 50%, and the surprise large amount of Southeastern European, I’m concerned about how reliable these results are. This makes me question the validity of the Sephardic result along with it. As they say, percentages must always be taken with a grain of salt. In this case, a large grain indeed.
Have you noticed any major changes to your results?