Correction: A previous version of this story featured an interview with a man who falsely claimed to be the Alex Garcia mentioned in the viral tweet. We have updated this story with an interview with the real Alex Garcia.
After an election night when Florida was a source of headaches for many across the country, one viral tweet about a Miami voter (and our original story about it) only added to the mess.
It all started when Lautaro Grinspan, a reporter with the Miami Herald, tweeted about his encounter with a man named Alex Garcia at a polling station.
“I just spoke with 28yr-old Miamian Alex Garcia. He said he woke up today thinking he was going to vote for Trump BUT he changed his mind at the voting booth. He ended up picking Biden to ‘go back to normal,’” wrote Grinspan. “‘I just want my Instagram to be about me again, and how good I look.’”
There was praise.
There was criticism.
But others said Garcia's admission was something felt by many Americans.
Late Tuesday night, BuzzFeed News set out to track down this confident and apparently good-looking Alex Garcia.
We found a Miami man with the name of Alex Garcia, who, along with his partner, told BuzzFeed News he was indeed the man in the tweet.
He told us how and why he’d supposedly changed his mind and discussed his desire for his Instagram to go back to being a “place to have fun.”
But we were lied to.
Several hours later, Grinspan and the REAL Alex Garcia got in touch with BuzzFeed News to confirm we’d been duped. “It’s a popular name,” the correct Alex Garcia said. “I’ll tell my mom it’s her fault.” (Grinspan also confirmed we were now speaking with the same man he’d spoken to.)
Garcia (the REAL one) told us he’d messaged Garcia (the FAKE one) after our story to complain.
“What a loser,” he said. “I messaged him on Instagram and said, ‘You’re such a liar,’ and he blocked me.” (The imposter Garcia also blocked BuzzFeed News after we contacted him about the deception.)
“I mean, you know if you’re a clout chaser and that’s what you’re after — I understand the thirst, but at the end of the day taking credit for someone else’s work in any capacity is just wrong,” he said.
The actual Garcia, a 28-year-old fashion recruiter from the Miami suburb of Kendall, said the 2020 election was his first time voting.
“I’ve never voted before, shamefully,” he said. “I’m from Miami, but I moved away for eight years, so I would just pretend that I voted and never did.”
He said he did originally plan to vote for Trump — he’d even penciled in the president’s name on a ballot that had been sent to his home, which he said he’d forgotten to turn in.
But Garcia, who is gay, said the conflict between his Cuban upbringing and his personal beliefs led him to change his vote at the last minute.
“Cubans are very one way [politically],” he said. “My family has always instilled this in me. I’ve had this moral battle with what I should do and removing myself from what my family’s always taught me.”
He considered voting for Trump in the voting booth, he said, but, “I sat there and thought about all the gay people who were literally going to throw me off a bridge when they find out what I did.”
He said he had been surprised by the number of people online who had responded positively to his remarks.
“I know people share that sentiment. I know everybody feels this way in my age group,” he said. “Can we go back to the super social social media?”
Garcia said the fact that someone had lied about being him was “the most Miami thing ever.”
“It couldn’t be any more Miami,” he said.