Sean Hannity dedicated a surprising amount of airtime on Friday night to "debunking" a viral meme that claimed Olive Garden has revoked his "Lifetime Pasta Pass." On Wednesday, CNN's Anderson Cooper joked that the rioters at the U.S. Capitol would return to "the Olive Garden, and to the Holiday Inn that they're staying at... And they're going to talk about the 'great day' that they had in Washington and really 'stand up for something...'" Social media took it from there.
A satirical press release made to look like it came from Olive Garden circulated on Twitter, saying that it would revoke its "Never Ending Pasta Pass" for some of those guests, including Hannity. The Fox News host took this joke deadly serious in a segment on his show on Friday night. He described himself as an average working man, noting that he loves Olive Garden, shops at Walmart and identifies with other brands that cater to working-class Americans. To contrast, he poked fun at Cooper misspeaking when he named hotels and described the meme about him as "a blue-check tweet."
Hannity then launched into some free advertising for Olive Garden, listing some of his favorite dishes there and confirming that programs like the "lifetime Pasta Pass" are real. He described the meme as "a menacing report" and "fake news." Finally, he said that he would order Olive Garden the next chance he gets "unless they ban me, which would be a sad, sad day in my life."
The segment still was not over there, however, as Hannity asking his next two guests to comment on the meme. One of them, clearly caught off guard, said after a long pause: "You want me to take that, Sean? Um, I can take that. The thing about Olive Garden is..."
So far, no true Olive Garden reps have commented on this whole ordeal, although designer Loui Mantia, Jr. did confirm that he is the original creator of the meme. He posted a long thread after Hannity's segment, explaining the joke for those that were behind and remarking on the phenomenon that he tried to parody, but ended up embroiled in instead.
When thinking about the absurdity of Olive Garden being dragged into this current event (and accounting for the fact that I have very little actual work to do these days), I wrote a fictional statement from Olive Garden... revoking Sean Hannity’s “Lifetime Pasta Pass.”— Louie Mantia, Jr. (@Mantia) January 8, 2021
"There is a very low bar for what companies and individuals feel like they need to make public statements about," he tweeted.
Hannity went on to decry President Donald Trump's removal from Twitter on his Friday night broadcast, though critics said that this, along with his Olive Garden tantrum, was all air time that could have been spent on the attempted insurrection at the Capitol. Trump is facing overwhelming calls for his removal from office with just 11 days remaining in his presidency.