Every day, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo holds a press conference to update the public amid the coronavirus pandemic ravaging his state. After speaking, he takes questions from journalists about ventilators, social distancing, and when this whole thing might be over. All things the public desperately needs to know, sure, but on Monday the internet had another question: Does our governor have a nipple piercing?
Call it the delusionary effects of staying inside for three weeks or another sign of our unmitigated, isolation-induced horniness: Some on Twitter and Reddit are convinced they can see the outline of jewelry hanging from Cuomo’s chest. The rumor began over the weekend, sparked by the white “State of Emergency” polo shirt he’s taken to wearing.
“Is it just me or is Cuomo’s nipple totally pierced?” questioned a Reddit thread. “If it is I like him even more,” one replied. “Don’t kink-shame this hero,” another scolded.
More Redditors tossed out other possibilities: Maybe, like a marathon runner, Cuomo tapes his nipples to prevent chafing. A reasonable suggestion, especially for a man as busy as he is now. Some believed the bumps looked more like unruly hair, or even an extra nipple. There was talk of the governor having Montgomery’s tubercles, oil glands on the areola that resemble large pimples. (These are most commonly found in pregnant women, though men can have them too.)
But maybe Cuomo, who has emerged for some New Yorkers as a voice-of-reason Dad figure amid the crisis, has a little bit of a Daddy side, too. Dual nipple piercings wouldn’t be that off brand for a broad shouldered Italian-American Queens native who is obsessed with his mom and loves making meatballs.
It is important to note that Cuomo is recently single, having separated from his partner, the Food Network’s Sandra Lee, last fall. If we are only now noticing the longtime politician’s nipple piercings, the detail could be new. (Or maybe we are just very bored.) Are we watching a man in the middle of a midlife crisis guide America through its own existential distress? As the writer Robert Wheel noted on Twitter, “Andrew Cuomo’s nipple ring is just a powerful new level of divorce.”
Representatives for the governor did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Daily Beast. But Brian Keith Thompson, owner of L.A.’s Body Electric Tattoo and piercer to stars like Beyoncé, FKA Twigs, and Scarlett Johansson, did.
“I watch Cuomo every morning when I get up,” Thompson said. “To me, he fits the bill for a nipple piercing. He seems like the kind of working-out guy who would have one.”
What’s more, after looking at the photos in question, Thompson believes he saw the outline of a curve barbell piercing underneath that polo. “It’s curved downward a little bit,” he said. “That’s very common with nipple piercings. [People] develop not only a hematoma, but especially those with male nipples, [might] develop a keloid.”
“I’m going to go out on a limb and say, yes, Governor Cuomo has a nipple piercing,” Thompson went on. “We’ve probably all sat in a room and talked to someone who has their nipples pierced. You’d never know. Your great-grandfather could have his nipple pierced and you’d never know, because when do you see your great-grandfather with his shirt off?”
If Cuomo wants a less-noticeable piercing, Thompson suggests he buy different jewelry—a straight barbell as opposed to the curl one he (might) be wearing. Those are easier to hide. That’s not to say that the governor needs to be nipple-shamed. In fact, the accessory could earn him a few more fans.
“Before we saw [the piercing], he’s one person,” Thompson said. “Then we see that, and we’re like ‘Oh wow! Governor Cuomo has got a wild side.’ I have more trust in a governor who would pierce his nipple than one who wouldn’t.”
Tuesday lunchtime, Cuomo held his regular presser, wishing his brother Chris, the CNN anchor who just tested positive for coronavirus, well wishes, and updating the city on the crisis. He ditched his white polo for a navy blue suit and checkered tie. Nothing was asked about the internet buzz about his gilded—or not—nipples. For the moment, Gov. Cuomo is keeping this mystery close to his chest.