Steve Rannazzisi, the actor and comedian best known for his role as Kevin on The League, says he lied about almost dying on 9/11. Rannazzisi has talked at length, both on podcasts and in print interviews, about how he was supposedly working at Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of the South Tower when the first plane struck, leading to a hasty evacuation and a crisis of conscience that led him to move to L.A. to pursue comedy. That, as it turns out, was a total fabrication, with Rannazzisi admitting to the New York Times earlier this week that he “was not at the Trade Center on that day” and that he doesn’t know why he ever claimed he was. He went on to tell the paper that “this was inexcusable” and that he is “truly, truly sorry.”
It’s unclear how Rannazzisi actually got caught in his lie, but the Times notes that Merrill Lynch didn’t have a record of his employment with the company, nor a record of him ever being in either tower. In his apology, the actor said he was actually working in midtown that day, and not for Lynch.
Rannazzisi’s lie has already landed him in a bit of hot water with Buffalo Wild Wings, which just started airing a series of NFL-centric commercials starring the actor this past week. In a statement, the company said it’s “re-evaluating” its relationship with the actor “pending a review of the facts.”
Though he declined to be interviewed by the Times after his admission, Rannazzisi released a statement saying, “For many years, more than anything, I have wished that, with silence, I could somehow erase a story told by an immature young man. It only made me more ashamed. How could I tell my children to be honest when I hadn’t come clean about this?” He continued, saying, “It was profoundly disrespectful to those who perished and those who lost loved ones. The stupidity and guilt I have felt for many years has not abated. It was an early taste of having a public persona, and I made a terrible mistake. All I can ask is for forgiveness.”
Listen to Rannazzisi tell his now-disproven story on an 2009 episode of WTF With Marc Maron in the clip below.
UPDATE: Deadline is now reporting that Comedy Central is “re-evaluating” whether to air Rannazzisi’s stand-up special Breaking Dad, which was scheduled to premiere this Saturday. “We just learned about this last night. We are very disappointed to hear about Steve’s misrepresentations and are currently determining how we will move forward,” the network says in a statement.
Rannazzisi didn’t exactly help his cause earlier today, when he took a sarcastic comment from Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson—who recently shared a silly, sweet tribute to his father, a firefighter who died on 9/11—as a show of support. Responding to Davidson’s tweet saying, “It’s ok @SteveRannazzisi people make mistakes … Can’t wait to meet my dad for lunch later,” Rannazzisi said, “thank you pete. i really appreciate it,” seemingly unaware that he was talking to the family member of an actual 9/11 victim. Rannazzisi has since deleted the tweet, but thanks to screen caps, the interaction will live forever online.