A manipulated image online shows Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis holding a T-shirt reading, “Your mask is as useless as Joe Biden.” DeSantis and the White House have sparred, including on the issue of masks, but the original photo is from 2019 and actually shows DeSantis holding a Popeyes restaurant shirt.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and President Joe Biden have publicly sparred over each other’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic — with DeSantis at one point responding to Biden: “Why don’t you do your job?”
DeSantis, a Republican who is viewed as a potential 2024 presidential candidate, has sought to block schools in Florida from implementing mask mandates. That position is counter to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendation that everyone — students, teachers, staff and visitors — wear a mask inside schools, regardless of vaccination status.
But a viral image showing DeSantis holding a T-shirt denouncing masks and Biden has been doctored. It is actually from 2019, a reverse image search shows.
“Your mask is as useless as Joe Biden,” the orange T-shirt in the image reads. One Facebook post of the image was shared more than 5,000 times — and some commenters provided a link for others to buy the same shirt.
A reverse image search brought us to a 2019 news story, showing that the image in question was actually nearly two years old — and that the shirt was a promotional item for Popeyes restaurants. “I went to Popeyes for the new chicken sandwich and all I got was this lousy t-shirt,” the shirt reads.
DeSantis tweeted the photo on Sept. 27, 2019, writing: “Great to visit the HQ for @PopeyesChicken and @BurgerKing in Miami. I’ve been looking for the elusive chicken sandwich, but the stores are still out. Maybe it’s time to issue an executive order requiring all Popeyes in Florida to re-stock them ASAP??”
The governor’s political committee, Friends of Ron DeSantis, has sold relevant merchandise — including a “Don’t Fauci My Florida” T-shirt (a reference to National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci) and a drink sleeve quoting DeSantis as saying, “How the hell am I going to be able to drink a beer with a mask on?”
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DeSantis, Ron (@GovRonDeSantis). “Great to visit the HQ for @PopeyesChicken and @BurgerKing in Miami. I’ve been looking for the elusive chicken sandwich, but the stores are still out. Maybe it’s time to issue an executive order requiring all Popeyes in Florida to re-stock them ASAP??” Twitter. 27 Sep 2019.
Hernandez, Joe and Deepa Shivaram. “Some Florida School Districts Will Require Masks. The Governor May Cut Their Funding.” NPR. 6 Aug 2021.
Knowles, Hannah. “DeSantis sells ‘Don’t Fauci My Florida’ merch as new coronavirus cases near highest in nation.” Washington Post. 16 Jul 2021.
“StoreFront | Ron DeSantis Florida Governor.” WinRed.com. Accessed 11 Aug 2021.
Turner, Jim. “Governor ready for a chicken sandwich ‘taste test’.” News Service of Florida. 1 Nov 2019.