Washington - Fox News host Pete Hegseth said on Sunday that he hasn't washed his hands in a decade - sparking laughter and confusion from those on social media who found his comments extremely gross.
Speaking with his "Fox and Friends" co-hosts, Hegseth said one of his goals for 2019 was to be as honest on the air as he is backstage.
Without warning anyone, he immediately followed through on that resolution.
"I don't think I've washed my hands for 10 years," he blurted out, prompting hysterical laughter from his colleagues. He provided some sort of explanation.
"Really. I don't really wash my hands ever. I inoculate myself. Germs are not a real thing. I can't see them, therefore they're not real."
"So you're becoming immune to all the bacteria," interjected co-host Jedediah Bila, who also yelled, "Someone, help me!"
"Exactly," Hegseth replied. "I can't get sick."
Newsweek reports that Hegseth's comments were sparked by a conversation over day-old pizza - the co-host had apparently eaten some slices that were left out from the day before. He defended himself by saying pizza "lasts for a long time."
The Fox personality's remarks made the rounds on social media, prompting many to react and wonder why, if true, he would even admit to such a thing.
A Fox News spokeswoman told The Washington Post Hegseth was joking, of course, which he later said was "obvious."
"We're on a show, and we have fun, and we banter, and I'm like, eh, you know, maybe I haven't washed my hands for 10 years," he told USA Today. "If you look at Ed and Jedediah's reaction, they are laughing like we are (on) every show."
He continued: "My halfhearted commentary to the point is, we live in a society where people walk around with bottles of Purell in their pockets, and they sanitise 19 000 times a day as if that's going to save their life. I take care of myself and all that, but I don't obsess over everything all the time."
Hegseth doubled down in a string of tweets Monday, urging "The Media" to "loosen up and have some fun." Several people in the replies accused him of lying and backpedaling to save face.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention dedicates several pages of its website to hand-washing, underscoring its importance in preventing the spread of germs.
"Many diseases and conditions are spread by not washing hands with soap and clean, running water," the CDC writes, recalling lessons most of us were taught in kindergarten.
They further note that everyone should wash their hands before preparing or eating food.
That suggestion probably applies to day-old pizza as well.
The Washington Post