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An Investigation: Where Did This Rand Paul Story Actually Take Place?

"So I'm down here and I'm in line for barbecue..." "Sen. Paul's BBQ story is clearly a joke...something that everyone other than BuzzFeed reporters seem to understand," a Paul spokeswoman said.

Posted on May 18, 2015, at 3:02 p.m. ET

Scott Olson / Getty Images

Speaking in Texas in 2014, Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul relayed an incident that he said occurred at a barbecue in the Lone Star state.

Said Paul:

"The one thing Texas has that's hard for the rest of the country to compete with is barbecue. So I'm down here and I'm in line for barbecue and the guy in front of me has got two big plates of barbecue. And I'm like, 'You're not going to live very long eating like that.' And he looked at me and he said, 'Well my granddad lived to be 105.' And I said, 'Well your granddad didn't live to be 105 eating like that.' And he said, 'No, my granddad lived to be 105 by minding his own business.'"

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Rand Paul has told a variation of this story in several other states, BuzzFeed News has found, with the details of the story changing slightly each time.

Paul said the barbecue incident happened in South Carolina when he spoke there in 2014.

"Last time I was here, I was at a barbecue," says Paul. "The guy in front of me was loading up two plates of barbecue. I said, 'You're not gonna live long eating like that!' He said, 'My granddad lived to be 105.' I said, 'He didn't live to 105 by eating like that.' He said, 'No, my granddad lived to be 105 by minding his own business.'"

Speaking in Iowa in 2012, Paul said the incident happened at a buffet (state unknown) and "recently," and this time it was not Paul who confronted the man with the plates of food, but another bystander.

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"Now I get to go around a lot and give a lot of speeches and I was at a buffet recently and I was up there near the front and there was a guy in front of me that had two plates of food. And he was piling up a third plate of food. The guy next to him said, 'You're not going to live very long eating like that.' He said, 'Well my granddaddy lived to be 105.' He said, 'Well, I bet your granddad didn't live to be 105 eating like that.' And he said, 'Nope, my granddad lived to be 105 by minding his own business.'"

Rand Paul also told the story to the Iowa delegation breakfast at the 2012 Republican convention, the incident occurring again at a buffet, and with Paul not participating in the interaction, only observing.

"I go to a lot of buffets, going through the line. There was a guy in front of me the other day and he had two plates of food. And he was heaping up a third plate of food. And the guy next to him said, 'You're not going to live very long eating like that.'

"And (the guy with all the food) said, 'Well, I don't know, my granddad lived to be 105.'

"(The other guy) said, 'I'll bet your granddad didn't live to be 105 eating like that.'

"(The guy with the food) said, 'Well, no, he lived to 105 by minding his own business.'"

Speaking in Washington, D.C. in 2015, Paul said the anecdote took place "a couple weeks ago" at a barbecue in Paducah, Kentucky. In this iteration, Paul was the one who confronted the man in line.

"I go to a lot of barbecues, so I'm thinking I might need to alter my jackets. They're getting a little bit tight. But I was at a barbecue in Paducah, Kentucky a couple weeks ago and the guy in front of me had a big plate of barbecue. And he's loading up another plate of barbecue. And I said, 'Well, you're not going to live very long eating like that.' And he said, 'Well, my granddad lived to be 105.' And I said, 'Well, I bet your granddad didn't live to be 105 eating like that.' And he said, 'Nope, he lived to be 105 by minding his own business.'"

Here's the video:

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To recap:

The story involves a man, either at a buffet or a barbecue, loading up two or more plates of food. This barbecue or buffet could have occurred in Texas, South Carolina, Kentucky, or possibly Iowa. In the story, either Rand Paul or an unnamed bystander confronts the man about his eating habits. The story always ends with the man essentially telling Rand Paul or the unnamed bystander to mind his own business.

BuzzFeed News found a version of the story online. In this post from 2005, found on a random "Funniest jokes" message board, the story is about a boy eating too much candy at Halloween.

Sen. Paul's BBQ story is clearly a joke...something that everyone other than BuzzFeed reporters seem to understand," a Paul spokeswoman said.

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