Steve Rannazzisi, comedian and actor on popular TV show The League, has been lying to the public for a long time now. In the past, Rannazzisi had frequently attributed his success to decisions he made after narrowly escaping the World Trade Center on 9/11. He admitted on Tuesday that this was a lie, the New York Times reports.
“I was not at the Trade Center on that day,” he said in a statement via his publicist, Matthew Labov. “I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry.”
Rannazzisi had previously given interviews where he detailed his “experience” on 9/11, where he claimed to have been working at Merrill Lynch in the World Trade Center’s South tower when the first plane hit.
“I was there and then the first tower got hit and we were like jostled all over the place,” he told Marc Maron on the WTF Podcast in 2009. “Then the Port Authority came on the loudspeaker and was like ‘Hey, explosion in Tower 1, Things are being taken care of, everyone remain where you are, stay calm…’ ” He also claimed that he escaped the building right before the second plane crashed into the south tower.
He later said that he was still traumatized by the tragedy.
“I still have dreams of like, you know, those falling dreams,” he told Marc.
Rannazzisi continued to say in interviews the fact that he almost lost his life on 9/11 helped to change the direction of his life moving forward.
In an interview on the Pauly Shore & Friends TV Special in 2009, Rannazzisi said, “We were like: ‘You know what? I am going to do what I want to do now.’ I wasn’t doing a lot of comedy. I wasn’t doing lot of acting, what I went to school for.” Fun fact: Rannazzisi went to SUNY Oneonta and majored in communications.
In an interview on the Sklarbro Country podcast, he also talked about receiving a severance package from Merrill Lynch and not wanting to benefit financially from the 9/11 tragedy.
“I’ve spoken about it before,” he said. “I just don’t ever want to feel like, anyone, I am cashing in or anything like that.”
But now that he’s admitted that he made up the entire story, he’s refusing requests for interviews, according to the New York Times. In his statement, Rannazzisi explains that once he told the lie the first time, he realized it was impossible to take it back, although he wished he could.
“For many years, more than anything,” he said, “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?”
Now, if his statement can be believed, all he’s looking for his forgiveness from the public.
“It was profoundly disrespectful to those who perished and those who lost loved ones,” he said. “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.”
Right now, it’s unclear how Rannazzisi’s 9/11 lies will affect his relationship with the network and his sponsors. Buffalo Wild Wings recently made him the face of a recent ad campaign. Although The League is currently in its last season, Splitsider.com reports that a Steve Rannazzisi Comedy Central special, Breaking Dad, is set to air on Saturday.
[Photo by Matt Carr / Getty Images]