The DNFCA Christmas Special: “My Emergence Is What It’s All About!”

The Diana Nyad Fact Check Annex and Saturday Night Live join forces for a Diana Nyad Christmas episode.

In the late 1970s, director Gary Weis created short films that aired during episodes of SNL. The 1976 Christmas episode included one about Diana Nyad. The three-minute montage killed the otherwise festive holiday vibe:

At the time, Nyad’s repertoire of untruths was small compared to what it is today. But she managed to sneak a few in.

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DNFCA Hanukka Special: A Latka For Diana

In 1979, Andy Kaufman, aka Taxi’s Latka Gravas, challenged Diana Nyad to a wrestling match. Diana declined, but at least two of Kaufman’s challenges remain.

Photo of Andy Kaufman wearing t-shirt printed with "Women's Wrestling Champion Of The World"
Above: Andy Kaufman in 1980. Image via Reddit.

In the late 1970s, boundary-breaking performance artist/comedian Andy Kaufman began challenging women to wrestle.

In August 1979, Diana Nyad swam from Bimini, Bahamas, to Jupiter, Florida. As you’d expect, she immediately began exaggerating and lying about her feat: She said that she was the first to do it, she had swum over 100 miles, it had taken over 40 hours, her press boat—a big yacht—had “a slew of photographers leaning over the railings,” and she had set a new record for the world’s longest swim.

None of that was true.

I don’t know when Kaufman first challenged Nyad to a match, but it may have come in response to Nyad’s post-Bimini bluster. Unfortunately, she never accepted.

Fortunately, Kaufman challenged Nyad on camera at least twice.

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Grow Further Interview, Part 2: Diana Nyad And The Case Of The Vomiting Valedictorian

Early in the podcast, Diana Nyad begins a detailed description of her sixth-grade graduation. I didn’t question this tale when I first heard it last year. This time, though, something felt off. Maybe it was her “little patent leather shoes,” a curiously specific detail from someone who claims she doesn’t remember anything from childhood. In fact, she makes this claim a few minutes after telling her graduation story (6:19). Consistency is not one of Nyad’s strengths.
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The Grow Further Interview, Part 2: Cuba Swim, Inc.

Diana Nyad is ready to wring every money-making and attention-grabbing opportunity she can from her upcoming biopic. She’s been fantasizing about this moment for over 40 years.

Above: Detail from Miami Herald, 31 July 1978. According to an article published the following week, Nyad’s company “Cuba Swim Inc has a 24-member staff [and] is bigger, gaudier and costlier than anything like it before.”

In the second part of Diana Nyad’s Grow Further interview, she describes her upcoming biopic as an orgy of opportunity:

I have a fairly long list of things that, if that movie is going to have a moment, if it’s going to be recognized, and win some awards, etc., which means my story will be out there again and have a bit of a moment again . . . (10:34)

. . . she’s going to take advantage of that moment:
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The Vomiting Valedictorian And Other Tales From Diana Nyad’s Grow Further Interview, Part 2

In Grow Further, part 1, “Everyone Has a Story,” Diana dropped a bunch of big names and gave atrocious storytelling advice. In part 2, “The DNA of Storytelling,” she continues to lead by bad example while providing irrefutable evidence that lying is in her genes.

In 1976,  Diana Nyad told the Village Voice that she lied all the time, but only to impress herself, adding, “I don’t have to do that anymore.” In other words, Nyad admitted to being a compulsive liar—that she had to lie—but claimed she could stop.

She doesn’t, however, say she won’t. That’s because she can’t. Nyad’s as reliable as the tides: every appearance carries with it new untruths and novel variations on old ones.

In part 2 of Nyad’s Grow Further interview, she reaffirms her position as one of the most prolific and convincing liars in sports history. From nonsense about a 70-year-old film to a sixth-grade classmate barfing in the bathroom to “a little something” with Annette Bening, Diana Nyad can’t stop.

(Note: I’ve divided this post into three parts. I’ll post part 2, “Cuba Swim, Inc.” tomorrow and part 3, “Diana Nyad and the Case of the Vomiting Valedictorian,” on Monday.)
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