Bernie Sanders says he ‘was just sitting there trying to keep warm’ in viral Inauguration Day photo

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Yes, Bernie Sanders has seen the memes.

The Democratic senator from Vermont addressed that viral Inauguration Day photo that’s spawned countless jokes and memes during an appearance on “Late Night with Seth Meyers” on Thursday.


“I was just sitting there trying to keep warm, trying to pay attention to what was going on.”

As Meyers noted, Sanders became a breakout star and “meme of the day” after Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris were sworn in on Wednesday, thanks to a Getty photo showing the Senator swaddled in a thick winter coat and his distinctive knit mittens as he sat cross-legged and clutching a manila envelope. The image captured the imaginations of many on the internet, as Sanders looked for all the world like he had 100 other things to do on Inauguration Day rather than sitting on a folding chair in the cold. So delighted viewers began photoshopping this image of the senator into scenes from “Sex and the City,” “Star Trek” and “Game of Thrones,” or putting him on the New York City subway, Leonardo da Vinci’s “The Last Supper” or on the moon.

Related:Inauguration fashion: Purple, American designers, pricey sneakers — and Bernie Sanders’ mittens

But despite how he looked in that now infamous moment in time, Sanders told Meyers that he was deeply moved by the inaugural ceremony. “I was in tears seeing the new president getting sworn in and the old president leaving Washington,” he said.

Watch the interview here:

And he was glad that the woman who gave him the gloves two years ago, an Essex Junction, Vt. schoolteacher named Jen Ellis, has been getting so much positive intention. Indeed, Ellis has told outlets such as Slate that her Gmail account “crashed” from the flood of requests she’s received for interviews, as well as shoppers looking for their own pair of mittens, which she had crafted from recycled wool sweaters and lined with fleece made from recycled plastic bottles.

Alas, she says that she has no more mittens for sale, and has directed Twitter followers to check out “great crafters on Etsy who make them.”

Indeed, plenty of eager enterprisers have cropped up on Etsy
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 and the Facebook-owned
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Instagram, sharing their patterns and versions of the cozy knit mittens.

Ravelry, a website where knitters and crocheters connect and publish patterns, also saw one knitter reverse-engineer a pattern for the Sanders mitts within 24 hours of the Inauguration, the New York Times reported. But while we can get our hands of replica’s of Sanders’ mittens, we may never know what he was clutching in that manila envelope.

Meyers tried getting Sanders to spill its contents, but the senator waved him away with, “I’d love to tell you, Seth. It’s top secret.”

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