Buffalo Wild Wings CEO Sally Smith tells Yahoo Finance today that she is launching her own investigation into the controversy surrounding company spokesperson Steve Rannazzisi and his lying about surviving the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center.
“We were very disappointed to learn about the misrepresentation of his involvement in 9/11," Smith says. "We’re taking a look at how and if we continue that relationship.”
Rannazzisi, a comedian and star of the FXX show "The League," had described his ordeal at the World Trade Center in great detail to multiple interviewers. He claimed that he was working for Merrill Lynch on the 54th floor of the South Tower when the first plane struck. Rannazzisi has cited his experience on September 11th as the reason he decided to give up his career in New York and move to Los Angeles to pursue show business.
Today, Rannazzisi admitted that he lied about the event on Twitter and released this statement through his publicist, Matthew Labov: “I was not at the Trade Center on that day. I don’t know why I said this. This was inexcusable. I am truly, truly sorry.”
Comedy Central was set to debut Rannazzisi’s live standup show “Breaking Dad” this Saturday. “We just learned about this last night. We are very disappointed to hear about Steve’s misrepresentations and are currently determining how we will move forward,” Comedy Central told Variety.
Rannazzisi could also lose his lucrative spokesperson role with Buffalo Wild Wings (BWLD). He was the face of Buffalo Wild Wings' basketball campaign this spring and is set to be the face of their NFL campaign. “We hired Steve as an actor and not because of any previous work that he had done. We’ll continue to gather the facts to determine how we move forward,” Smith said in a Yahoo Finance exclusive.
Smith says that Buffalo Wild Wings just learned on Tuesday that Rannazzisi was lying and that it’s too early to determine if the company will terminate its relationship with him.
“'The League' did fit in very well with Buffalo Wild Wings and our persona and what we do,” Smith continued. “But I think that anytime you’re working with a personality, [you have to consider] how you appropriately vet that personality and not have that personality take over for the brand, but supplement the message that you’re trying to portray. There’s always a risk and there’s always things that you need to be aware of.”