ORLANDO, Fla. - A naked man who was photographed "spooning" a shark is not Florida Gators head football coach Jim McElwain, News 6 sports director David Pingalore has learned.
For the last several days, McElwain has had to answer questions about the photo, which went viral after Deadspin.com posted a story about a tweet from a woman named Anneka Svenska.
"Who is this man? Please RT, find him & ask him why he did this? Where is the humour in humiliating slaughtered animals?" said the tweet, which included the photo.
Deadspin suggested that the naked man looks like McElwain.
"First and foremost, I don't know who it is, but it isn't me," McElwain said Tuesday at a Gators club function.
A News 6 viewer contacted Pingalore, who reported on the story and provided information and pictures of the naked man on the shark.
The viewer, who was visiting the Orlando area from New Jersey, said he is a good friend of the photographed man, whom he called Sean and identified as a retired law enforcement officer who lives in upstate New York.
The viewer said the picture was taken two years ago off Long Island, New York. He said the photo was taken in fun and there was no intent to "degrade the shark."
Pingalore said he arranged a meeting between the photographed man and McElwain, but the man backed out after threats were posted online from people upset that he would take such a photo with a dead shark.
“I was on the phone with Steve McClain (University of Florida’s senior associate athletics director for football),” Pingalore said. “The naked man wanted to meet Coach McElwain, then all of a sudden, an hour later, he flipped and got scared."
The viewer initially said Pingalore could publish the photos but later recanted because his friend is now fearful.
Pingalore joined Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi on 96.9 FM The Game on Friday to discuss the situation. Scroll past the 2:20 mark in the video below to listen.
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