The first day of a new job is always nerve wracking, but on his first day as a television news anchor in April, Dewey Beach bartender A.J. Clemente's slip made him a jobless internet sensation.
Clemente, 24, is now working his third summer at Que Pasa, pouring drinks and fielding questions about his first on-air appearance as a news anchor, when technical difficulties caught the news team off-guard and resulted in some equally off-color remarks in the first moments of his career as an anchorman.
"That day I got the OK and then I went on," he said of his first day as the evening weekend anchorman at an NBC television station in Bismark, North Dakota. "I hadn't been fitted for an earpiece."
With no cue, no countdown and no audio in the newsroom, Clemente had no idea that when he uttered two strong profanities before he thought the cameras were on, he actually opened the newscast with them.
His co-host was also visibly shaken at the start of the newscast, which Clemente said began 30 seconds early, but both recovered and the new anchorman said he had no idea his profanity had aired until the third commercial break.
As soon as the video was posted online, Clemente said it went viral and by the second newscast at 10 p.m., the clip had already received 350,000 hits online.
"I called my mom," he said. "It was a little devastating."
The next day was Monday, and that's when Clemente said he officially got the ax, but he was already beginning to field calls from media outlets nationwide, offering to fly him to New York and Los Angeles for appearances.
"I was still in the process of deciding whether to hide or just go with it," he said. "Matt Lauer left some voice mails. I still have them, actually."
So Clemente, who moved from New York to Newark when he was young, went with his hometown and by Wednesday of that same week, he was making appearances to confront the goof on The Today Show, Morning Joe, Inside Edition, E!, Extra, the Kelly and Michael show and Letterman. Plus, he made it to the red carpet opening of "Love is All You Need."
During his whirlwind media blitz, Clemente said he was surprised at all the support he received, especially from old-time pros such as Tom Brokaw, who made a surprise appearance on Morning Joe to offer encouragement.
"It was insane," he said. "All the support shocked me the most. From Lauer to Letterman, they all said it could have happened to anyone."
Making appearances on the Kelly and Michael show and the David Letterman show were highlights, he said, and he was surprised to find out from some friends he met backpacking through Europe last winter that the blooper even made an international splash.
"Kelly and Michel were awesome, but Letterman was like talking to a friend," he said, a little surprised by the outpouring of support.
By May Clemente had returned to Dewey Beach to work for a third summer at Que Pasa.
Though he is still getting some interviews about the incident and even, strangely enough, congratulations, Clemente said he's not letting his new-found fame get the best of him.
Concentrating on just getting through another season for now, the fallen anchorman said he's eager to move on this fall.
"At the end of summer I'm ready to go see where the next challenge is."