SALT LAKE CITY — In the sixth season of “Seinfeld,” Jerry briefly dates a police sergeant. But, you see, Jerry is a liar.
After showing him the police station’s polygraph machine, Sgt. Cathy asks Jerry if he’s ever seen “Melrose Place.” Jerry claims he hasn’t — he’s actually a huge “Melrose” fan — and Cathy wants proof. So Jerry agrees to take the polygraph test.
“I have access to one of the most deceitful, duplicitous, deceptive minds of our own time. Who better to advise me?” Jerry ponders. He’s talking about George, who gives Jerry the following advice:
In that spirit, let’s look at some of the most notorious lies in sports and pop culture — ones that perhaps the liars themselves believed. These lies made us laugh, made us cringe and, yes, even made us believe.
Lies that made us laugh
Dwight Schrute, ‘Assistant Regional Manager’
Oh, Dwight. Poor, sweet, power-hungry Dwight. Of the many running gags on “The Office,” Dwight’s job title is one of the best. (He’s actually the Assistant to the Regional Manager — not that he’d ever admit the distinction readily.)
Every NBA player called for a foul, ever
Forget dunks, the NBA’s biggest attraction is foul call reactions. No NBA player has ever committed a foul. (According to the players, that is.)
‘Ice Ice Baby’
Ever turn on the radio, get excited it’s Queen’s “Under Pressure,” then realize it’s actually “Ice Ice Baby”? We’ve all been there.
When Vanilla Ice sampled the bass line to Queen’s “Under Pressure,” people took notice. The sample was obvious, but Ice and Co. didn’t give Queen and David Bowie songwriting credits or royalties. That changed, though, once reps from Queen and Bowie threatened Ice with a copyright infringement suit. The rapper infamously claimed it wasn’t thievery because he added an extra note in there. Good try, Ice.
Willy Wonka’s limp
Man, this guy. The first time audiences see Willy Wonka in the flesh, he looks fragile. That cane, that limp, that slow walk, hushes the raucous crowd outside the factory gates. (A weird reaction to someone’s disability, by the way.) No matter, though — he was just lying, er, joking. Did you fall for it?
Lies that made us cringe
Bobby Riggs, ‘she doesn’t stand a chance against me’
When Bobby Riggs, a 55-year-old former tennis champion, challenged 29-year-old tennis player Billie Jean King to a match, he didn’t shy away from the chauvinism.
“Billie Jean King is one of the all-time greats. She’s a superstar. She’s ready for the big one,” Riggs famously said before adding, “But she doesn’t stand a chance against me. Women’s tennis is so far beneath men’s tennis.”
At the time, he was middle-aged and, from the looks of it, in average shape. King, meanwhile, was young and in the prime of her career. She won the battle in three sets. Riggs didn’t actually believe his own sexist drivel, right? I’m going to call an umpire’s decision here: he was lying.
Walter White, breaking bad for his family
Throughout its five seasons, “Breaking Bad’s” main character, Walter White, claims he turned to meth dealing for his wife and children’s sake. (He’s got terminal lung cancer, and his high school teacher salary isn’t exactly a nest egg.) But, spoiler alert, he admits the lie in the show’s final season: “I did it for me,” he said. “I liked it. I was good at it. And I was really … I was alive.” This one hurt.
Lance Armstrong, clean cyclist
Few people dominated sports and pop culture the way Armstrong did. The cyclist’s recovery from cancer, his subsequent seven Tour de France victories and his work with the Lance Armstrong Foundation (Livestrong) made him easy to root for. He hosted “Saturday Night Live,” he dated Sheryl Crow, he showed up in “Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story.”
But where there’s smoke there’s fire — and man, there was a lot of smoke here.
Doping allegations followed Armstrong for years, which he doggedly denied and challenged. That changed after a 2012 investigation by the United States Anti-Doping Agency (USADA). The investigation had testimonies and witnesses that included Armstrong’s former teammates, and convicted Armstrong of running a vast and sophisticated doping ring.
As a result, the cyclist received a lifetime ban from competing in all sports that follow the World Anti-Doping Code. In a 2013 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong finally admitted his dishonesty. “I view this situation as one big lie, that I repeated a lot of times,” he told Winfrey.
Lies we actually believed
Everything about bomb diffusing in movies
This one is understandable. How often do we actually see bombs in real life, with our own two eyes? The wire-cutting, the red countdown timer, the hero working alone — it turns out this is all bogus. In real life, diffusing bombs is sometimes more complicated, and sometimes way simpler.Comment on this story
“If you're smart, you'll start by hiding behind something and shooting it with a shotgun,” a former military bomb tech told Cracked in 2014.
Milli Vanilli actually, you know, singing
We couldn’t leave this one out. Lip-syncing is one thing — it’s done in pop music all the time — but when it’s someone else’s voice entirely? Milli Vanilli gave us a lie for the ages. The German R&B duo sold millions of records, and even won the Grammy for best new artist in 1990. It turns out they weren’t the ones singing. Goodbye Grammy, hello infamy.