If a story seems too ridiculous to be true, it probably is. A story first reported by the Florida Sun Post has been discovered by Mashable to be fake after numerous news outlets, including the New York Post, picked up the story.
The story describes the unlikely marriage of a 68-year-old Florida man to his own granddaughter. The report alleges that after the man’s first marriage ended, his wife moved away with their children and he never saw them again.
Later, the man allegedly won the lottery and became a millionaire, since it seems that when it comes to made up news stories the motto is, “go big or go home.” Feeling great after winning the lottery, the man allegedly decided to get back into dating, and eventually met the 24-year-old woman who would become his wife…Only to find out that they were related while looking at one of his family photo albums together! (She recognized her father—the lottery winner’s son—as a child in the picture.)
The story concludes with the couple, who have, of course, asked to remain anonymous, insisting that they have no plans to get a divorce despite this revelation.
Even without the update across the top of the article apologizing for falling for this fake story, the report is pretty fishy. Not only were the couple always referred to anonymously, they also spoke to “reporters” or “journalists” in the original article—vague wording that would never be used in a reputable paper.
Plus, isn’t it just too perfect that after everything he went through with his marriages ending, he won the lottery? And isn’t it hard to believe that they could get past the creepiness of this relationship and want to stay married?
The “Florida Sun Post” was smart, though. The story is sensational enough to drive tons of clicks, while maintaining just enough of a tie to reality to be believable for journalists and readers alike. Recently, Her Campus covered the story of a mother and son who were risking jail time to stay in a relationship—a post that stayed in our “Most Read” section for multiple days.
But there’s really no excuse for the lack of research and skepticism that led to this story being published by so many news organizations. Hopefully we’ll all learn from this embarrassing moment for journalism!