At Friday’s crucial Georgia senate race debate, all eyes were on how anti-abortion hardliner Herschel Walker would defend himself against Democratic candidate Raphael Warnock after an explosive report by The Daily Beast this month uncovered that Walker had paid an ex-girlfriend to have an abortion in 2009.
The last-second bombshell dropped in a tight neck race that could ultimately decide which party controls the Senate—the latest in a long list of scandals which have rocked the ex-football player’s campaign. Walker and his campaign have continuously denied the accusations of the abortion payment.
But on Friday, Walker was given a pass by his opponent Raphael Warnock, who never pressed the Republican on the accusation.
Instead, another claim by Walker grabbed attention of viewers across the country: the moment when he broke debate rules by holding up an alleged police badge in response to a zinger by Warnock.
“One thing I have not done—I have never pretended to be a police officer. And I’ve never threatened a shootout with the police,” Warnock shot at Walker in one of the more tense moments of the debate.
In response, the Republican whipped a large black badge with a gold star out of his breast pocket for only a brief moment.
“I am work (sic) with many police officers,” he exclaimed.
It was the latest of many hints from Walker that he worked as a law enforcement agent, despite no real evidence that this has ever been the case, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
At the debate, the moderator quickly jumped on the candidate for breaking the rules of the exchange by producing a prop.
“It’s not a prop,” Walker doubled down. “It’s real.”
The moment led, naturally, from incredulity to all-out internet trolling of the viral moment.
“In fairness to Herschel Walker, I sometimes pull out my Star Fleet badge to get past security at Star Trek conferences,” wrote George Takei, an actor in Star Trek, on Twitter.
Many also likened the moment to child-like make-believe.
“Just like Herschel Walker, I’ve also gone around flashing a toy badge and pretending to be a sheriff. Then I turned 5,” read a tweet from the Palmer Report.
“Herschel Walker whipping out a fake badge and calling himself a police fiver is like my kid calling himself a ‘pilot’ because the actual pilots handed him a wings pin and showed him the cockpit,” wrote Elie Mystal, a correspondent for The Nation.
One meme-maker also leaned into film and TV, superimposing Walker into classics like The X-Files and Tombstone.
Walker has claimed to work in both local and federal law enforcement multiple times over the years, including claiming that he worked as a police officer, and as having trained with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
There is some evidence that he may have at least planned on attending a training course at Quantico, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but he would require a college degree if he was an FBI agent, which he does not have.
The Walker campaign provided Associated Press stories from 1989 where Walker himself referenced doing an obstacle course with other FBI recruits to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
A request by The Daily Beast for further corroboration of his attending the FBI course were not immediately answered by the Walker campaign.
In a post-debate interview with News Nation, Walker produced the badge once again—which Leland Vittert read as from Johnson County. And Walker repeated a past defense, which was that he was “joking” about being an FBI agent, and that he “never said I went out to do anything” but has “worked with” many county law enforcement agencies.
The Johnson County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to attempts by The Daily Beast to confirm the validity of the badge.
Previously, Walker’s campaign told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution he was an honorary deputy in Cobb County, Georgia as well as three other unnamed counties, but neither the Cobb County police or sheriff’s departments were able to support the claim.
An honorary badge ”gives you absolutely no law enforcement authority,” former DeKalb County District Attorney J. Tom Morgan told The Atlanta Constitution-Journal.
“It’s like a junior ranger badge.”
Walker’s campaign did not immediately respond to requests for comment from The Daily Beast.