Damar Hamlin Update: Do Tattoos Prove that Hamlin has a Body Double?
Last month, we fact-checked misinformation surrounding NFL player Damar Hamlin’s sudden cardiac arrest during a football game. In the weeks since his hospitalisation and subsequent discharge, social media and conspiracy theory forums have been filled with a new wave of theories and claims.
The main claim is that Hamlin did not survive the cardiac arrest and any public appearances he has since made are either deep fakes, a clone, or a body double. This is a cover-up to prevent the public from the dangers of the vaccine (which, according to the claim, caused Hamlin’s death) perpetrated variously by the NFL, Big Pharma, and the Government.
While this claim first sprung up in late January when sightings of Hamlin were scarcer, it has persisted even after Hamlin’s recent media appearances – most notably his appearance at the Super Bowl on Sunday which included media interviews, press photographs, live broadcasts, and fan-taken photographs.
A figure we have previously covered, Stew Peters, who produced the documentary Died Suddenly, has been posting on social media in reaction to Hamlin’s various appearances. The documentary and accompanying hashtag #diedsuddenly has become a way of describing an alleged wave of sudden deaths brought about by the Covid-19 vaccine. Key to this theory is that young, otherwise fit individuals and athletes in particular have been collapsing or dying in higher numbers since the introduction of the vaccine, with Hamlin originally being held up as a prime example. Peter’s posts have garnered many views and responses, stirring up speculation and wild claims.
Most of the “proof” of Hamlin having been replaced by a clone or body double is based on his tattoos. A tattoo on Hamlin’s hand visible during Super Bowl footage was pointed out as proof that different actors were portraying Hamlin because images taken in the days prior did not show a tattoo. The other main tattoo evidence is the apparent absence of a neck tattoo in some photos of Hamlin’s public appearances across the past week. Images that highlight these inconsistencies are being circulated on Tik Tok and Twitter.
However, a closer look at these claims shows more plausible explanations for any visual inconsistencies. Clearer images immediately disprove claims about Hamlin’s tattoo being missing. The letter P tattooed on his neck is less visible than older images due to fading and is naturally less visible in low lighting or when obscured by shadows. However, the tattoo is clearly visible in every appearance he has made despite the images being circulated as proof of its absence.
This is true of claims about Hamlin’s arm tattoos as well – low lighting in videos and his darker skin tone make it difficult to see his tattoos in full, but they are clearly visible under closer scrutiny.
Apart from his tattoos, others have claimed that Hamlin wore sunglasses throughout his appearances to conceal his identity as a body double or clone, and that video footage of him was digitally manipulated. However, footage of Hamlin without his sunglasses is readily available (although often omitted by those who claim he is dead). Footage from the Super Bowl that shows Hamlin as a spectator during the game was also broadcast live – making it highly unlikely that any video manipulation was possible.
In response to earlier claims, Hamlin has posted on social media showing himself in a more unfiltered, unedited setting. Given the wealth of footage of Hamlin, interviews with journalists, accounts from his teammates of meeting him the claim that Hamlin is being portrayed by a body double or clone to cover up his death does not hold up. Neither do tattoos prove that someone else has been used to replace him. We therefore give this claim a false rating.
Although the evidence produced can be quickly fact-checked and debunked (earlier claims have also been fact-checked by reputable sources), it is also clear that many of these claims are based on the firm belief that Hamlin is dead because of the vaccine, rather than any evidence being a clear smoking gun. Instead, Hamlin’s every move is scrutinized for any possible evidence to back up the claim. This has persisted even after the Super Bowl footage, with tweets about Hamlin’s tattoos piling up during and after the game.
When prominent figures such as Stew Peters loudly voice their “suspicions” and give weight to conspiracies about Hamlin, these claims are amplified among the community who are predisposed to believing in #DiedSuddenly and that the Covid-19 vaccine causing widespread cardiac issues. However, to prevent those beliefs and misinformation from spreading further, it remains important to fact-check the claims being used to convince or pull others in.