It is late afternoon, and I'm tired of looking at Andrew Cuomo's nipples. I have clicked on literally thousands of pictures in his Flickr photostream, enlarging every embroidered polo shirt, every neatly pressed button-down, and every soft-looking sweater that the governor of New York has worn within the past several months. I've carefully appraised how different fabrics cling to his chest, and I've accidentally liked—and then immediately unliked—at least a half-dozen of his late 2018 Instagrams.
I'm tired of looking at Andrew Cuomo's nipples, and I'm not sure I'm any closer to answering a question that has been making its way around the internet: Does everyone's new fave Pandemic Daddy have a nipple piercing?
On Friday, Cuomo gave his daily press briefing, where he announced that a 1,000-bed temporary hospital had been completed at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in New York City. He also said that the Army Corps of Engineers had identified four other potential sites where temporary hospitals might be constructed but, because the internet is thirsty for any kind of distraction right now, that didn't seem to be the main takeaway from his early afternoon television appearance.
Instead, a number of people seemed to focus their attention on… something that appeared to be happening in his pectoral area. "Is it just me or is Cuomo's nipple totally pierced?" one post-press conference tweet asked. Some combination of the words "Governor Cuomo" and "pierced nipples" appeared in posts on a wide range of subreddits, including r/mildlyinteresting, r/funny, and r/TIHI (Thanks, I Hate It).
But despite all of the retweets, comments, enlarged photos, and Reddit upvotes, there's still no real consensus as to whether the governor is pierced or not. Some have suggested that Cuomo was wearing suspenders under his shirt—despite the fact that other photos show him wearing a belt too—or that he was strapped into a bulletproof vest. Others guessed that it was a back brace, a Band-Aid or tape, some kind of "posture device," a random tuft of chest hair, or even a supernumerary nipple.
I took a break from enlarging photos of Cuomo's chest, and reached out to several professional piercers to see if they could offer any insight.
"I don't want to speculate. It might be a nipple piercing, but it's very hard to tell 100%," Paul Fox, the head piercer at True Expression Piercing Studio in Queens told me. "We have lots of white-collar, middle-aged male clients with nipple or genital piercings, so it's not really uncommon."
Keith Nemerow, the owner of Platinum Ink in Austin, Texas, was slightly more certain. "It appears they are pierced, very likely with a 5/8” barbell, " he said in a Facebook message. "Hard to guess the gauge, but likely 12-14 g, with what appears to be 5mm balls at the end. [An] educated guess." (It's an ultra-educated guess: he said that his shop does over 30,000 piercings every year.)
But Paul Collurafici, the owner of Chicago's Tattoo Factory shattered the internet's collective hopes. "I don't think they're pierced," he said. "If they are, they're crooked. Don't forget, a man in his position may be wearing a bulletproof vest, or something else for communication."
Despite all of the time I spent eyeballing photos of Cuomo's nips, I'm still not sure what's happening under his shirt. I do believe that, if he does have a piercing, it's a reasonably recent one. In photos from mid-September, that same nipple was visible beneath a different polo shirt, and it looked to be completely unadorned that day. (Yes, I'm aware of how creepy that entire paragraph is, thank you for asking.)
Maybe Johnny Pearce from SoHo's Nine Moons Piercing is right: Ultimately, it doesn't matter. If he has one, we should be happy for him.
"Piercings are for everyone! And if Gov. Cuomo has his nipple pierced, good for him. He’s a human being before anything else, and it’s in his rights to have a nipple piercing if he so chooses," he said. "But we at Nine Moons Piercing also feel that he has a right to his privacy about the subject. It’s a right that extends to both current and future clients, a rule that we respect and hold true."
So do your thing, Governor Cuomo. I swear I'm closing all of these browser tabs now.