Steve Rannazzisi built his career in comedy off of a story about how he narrowly escaped the World Trade Center on 9/11, but now the actor is admitting that the entire story was fabricated.
Rannazzisi, who plays Kevin in “The League,” said he was working for Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of the south tower when he fled the building after the first tower was hit that Tuesday morning.
But when the New York Times confronted Rannazzisi about details in his story that didn’t add up, he admitted — through his publicist — that it was all a lie.
“I was not at the Trade Center on that day,” he said in a statement provided by his publicist. “I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry.” (SLIDESHOW: These Powerful Photos Are Why We’ll Never Forget 9/11)
“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?”
“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.”
It turns out that Rannazzisi was actually in Midtown on 9/11, and never worked for Merrill Lynch. The company has never had offices in either tower.
The actor is the face of several companies’ campaigns, including one for Buffalo Wild Wings that started this NFL season.
“We are disappointed to learn of Steve’s misrepresentations regarding the events of September 11, 2001,” Buffalo Wild Wings said in a statement to the Times. “We are currently re-evaluating our relationship with Steve pending a review of all the facts.”
Rannazzisi has recalled his escape in great detail for several interviews.
“I still have dreams of like, you know, those falling dreams,” he told an interviewer once. “I was there and then the first tower got hit and we were like jostled all over the place.”
“I’ve spoken about it before,” Rannazzisi said when he claimed he got a severance package from Merrill Lynch. “I just don’t ever want to feel like, anyone, I am cashing in or anything like that.” (VIDEO: Chris Pratt’s 9/11 Memorial Will Leave You In Tears)
Rannazzisi also credits his decision to pursue comedy with his 9/11 escape.
“We decided that we were moving,” he 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.”