Steve Rannazzisi 9/11 Lie: Comedian Admits He Lied About Being 9/11 Survivor

Steve Rannazzisi was a 9/11 survivor. And then he wasn’t. What changed? Just the fact that Steve was exposed as telling a lie about his whereabouts on one of the most devastating mornings in modern American history.

It wasn’t that Steve had an attack of conscience and confessed. The New York Times, which is responsible for breaking the story, reports Steve’s 9/11 survivor claims ended when the 37-year-old comedian was confronted about his dishonesty.

Rannazzisi previously stated he was working in the south tower the day the World Trade Center was attacked. Steve claimed to be working at the Merrill Lynch offices on the 54th floor of the building when he saw a plane hit the north tower. Steve Rannazzisi said of the incident that he managed to escape the building mere minutes before the second plane struck the south tower.

“I still have dreams of like, you know, those falling dreams.”

The League star had always credited his decision to give up his office career and try to succeed in entertainment to surviving this traumatic event. He enjoyed a great deal of success after moving to Los Angeles, including a (now threatened) sponsorship deal with Buffalo Wild Wings.

Fittingly, it was during the week that marked the 14th anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks that the Times confronted the comedian about the faulty details of his story. Not only did the news source find that he could not have been in the south tower that day, they were unable to find any record whatsoever of his employment with Merrill Lynch. Even worse, Merrill Lynch had no offices in either tower at the time of the attack.

In the face of irrefutable proof of his dishonesty, CNN reports Steve Rannazzisi decided to come clean and apologize. The comedian made a series of tweets that acknowledged he wasn’t a 9/11 survivor.

Just as there were issues with Rannazzisi’s survivor story, there are a couple of problems with his apology. First, that Steve blames his behavior on being a “young man” who “made a mistake”. It wasn’t until a couple of days ago that there was any public indication that the comedian told a lie. It wasn’t that the dishonesty occurred once and was never an issue again: A huge part of Steve Rannazzisi’s life since 9/11 is claiming to be a victim of terrorism. He built an entire career around how his life forever changed that day. There is no indication that Steve Rannazzisi made an effort to own his dishonesty until the New York Times confronted him with the inconsistencies in his story.

Second, that someone could comfortably lie for years about such a horrific event that took thousands of lives and haunted a nation. One didn’t have to be at Ground Zero to be profoundly affected. So, why would Steve think such a thing would have to be the case? The Washington Post used the phrase “false memoirist” to describe people like Rannazzisi. These individuals are known to lie about everything from surviving traumatic historical events to suffering from drug addiction to being the victims of child abuse.

Psychologist Christopher Chabris suggested people like Steve feel the need to insert themselves into an ongoing narrative to gain sympathy.

“I’m not sure it takes a psychologist to come up with motivations for that, [but] saying you survived 9/11 is [an] attention-getting story. You can get into a loop where if you get rewarded for that sort of thing you keep on doing it.”

Whatever perks Steve Rannazzisi had earned through his career may be crumbling. Buffalo Wild Wings said in a statement that it was “currently re-evaluating” its relationship with the comedian, “pending a review of all the facts.” It’s likely those around Steve or people who offered him sympathy and support may also be doing some re-evaluating.

Perhaps Steve Rannazzisi told a little white lie that spiraled out of control, and he wasn’t sure how to deal with it. Perhaps. We’ll never really know. What we do know is that this is one heck of a lesson about the consequences of building your career on a fake story told in poor taste.

[Image Credit: Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images]