CLAIM: A photo shows the Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz as a senior in high school with a mullet hairstyle and a tuxedo.
THE FACTS: The image is not genuine. A reverse-image search revealed Gaetz’s face was superimposed onto a different man’s portrait, which has been circulating as a meme online for at least 11 years.
The viral image resembling Gaetz shows a young man in an apparent school portrait. He wears a tuxedo and a mullet hairstyle, with blond locks that are short and curly on top but long and straight on the sides.
Twitter and Facebook users shared the image this week with captions claiming it showed Gaetz as a high school senior.
“Any time Matt Gaetz tweets just respond with his senior photo,” several social media users wrote.
The false image amassed thousands of likes and shares as Gaetz continued to face a House Ethics Committee probe and a federal investigation for sex trafficking allegations involving underage girls.
The original image has been circulating in internet memes as far back as 2010, with captions such as, “Business on top, party on the sides.”
The version of the image featuring Gaetz’s face has only circulated in recent days, as the accusations against Gaetz have appeared in media reports.
A Gaetz representative with the PR firm Logan Circle Group sent The Associated Press a statement reiterating the lawmaker’s denial of the allegations and confirming the image was fake.