Elections

Here’s the Real Story Behind That Viral Video of a GOP Nominee Dancing the Harlem Shake in His Underwear

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Did you watch that humorous viral video of a GOP nominee, who was bare-chested doing the Harlem Shake in his briefs?

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Eric Brakey won the Maine Republican nomination for U.S. Senate, and in a burnt-orange Speedo swivels his hips and dances before a mirror to the song “Harlem Shake.”

Brakey will be challenging independent Angus King for a seat in Congress this fall. The video’s link is “ericbrakeyforsenate.com.”

And although the man in the viral video is in fact him, Brakey says the footage was taken out of context and remixed to the song “Harlem Shake.”

The dancing montage was actually pulled from videos for a 2011 Vita Coco commercial Brakey co-starred in when he was working as an actor in New York City.

 

A rough cut of the ad that Brakey shared with PEOPLE features him and and several other men dancing in swimsuits.

 

“This was a very funny, family-friendly commercial for Vita Coco coconut water that I did when I was a professional actor in New York City, in 2011 when I was living a whole different life,” he explains.

 

“This became a story when I first announced when I was running for the state Senate (in 2013) and once we put it into context, people saw it was a funny, family-friendly commercial we did for a product, Vita Coco coconut water, and people didn’t think it was a big deal,” he says.

 

In 2013, on the online forum As Maine Goes, Brakey explained the story behind the resurfaced video to critics who said they were disgusted with his dance moves.

 

“I had a good laugh watching that again,” he wrote at the time. “I hadn’t seen it in a few years. Thank you for sharing and helping to promote some of the comedic work I’ve done as an actor.”

 

He tells PEOPLE now that he’s “not at all” embarrassed by his work in the commercial.

“I invite anyone to watch the commercial in its full context, it is funny and family-friendly. I think people will have a laugh about it,” he says. “I am a real human being. I never thought in a million years that this [politics]is what I would be doing. At a certain moment in my life I realized there are real problems in our country and people need to get off the sidelines.”

 

Brakey won the race for state senate in 2013 and was re-elected in 2015.

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