Herschel Walker Denies Making False Claim About Graduating College | PEOPLE.com

2022-05-28 03:43:34 By : Ms. Jane Fu

Former football star Herschel Walker just won Georgia's Republican Senate primary on Tuesday. In November, he'll face Democratic Senator and Pastor Raphael G. Warnock in the general election. Until then, he might want to get his story straight about his college career at the University of Georgia.

Walker attended the school, where he became a Heisman Trophy winner and a College Football Hall of Famer, before leaving after his junior season to play football professionally in the short-lived United States Football League.

He claimed on his campaign website that he later returned to UGA to finish his studies and graduate with a Bachelor's degree in Criminal Justice. After The Atlanta Journal-Constitution asked about the graduation claim, the Walker campaign deleted the reference from his bio.

The line about earning his degree is still visible in screenshots from the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, which CNN references in a fact-checking story about Herschel's claims. (It's also still included in an author bio for an edition of his book Breaking Free on Amazon.)

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"I was majoring in Criminal Justice at UGA when I left to play in the USFL my junior year. After playing with the New Jersey Generals, I returned to Athens to complete my degree, but life and football got in the way," Walker told the paper in a statement admitting he did not graduate.

During an interview last week with Fox 5 Atlanta, anchor Russ Spencer asked him about making false claims about earning a degree. "In some instances, you've exaggerated," Spencer said. "You said that you graduated from UGA."

"I never said that," Walker responded. "They say that. And I said — that's what you gotta remember. I never, I never have said that statement. Not one time. I've said that I studied criminal justice at UGA."

A rep for the Walker campaign didn't respond to PEOPLE's request for comment on this story. But spokesperson Mallory Blount told CNN, "Imagine a world where the media cared as much about solving inflation, gas prices and baby formula shortages as they do about re-litigating every word Herschel has ever said."

The false claim on Walker's campaign website isn't the only time the GOP candidate said he'd graduated from UGA. In fact, he's said it multiple times and as recently as 2017 — even stating that he was a top student, according to an April CNN report.

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"People say, 'Herschel, you played football.' But I said, 'Guys, I also was valedictorian of my class. I also was in the top 1 percent of my graduating class in college,'" Walker said during an 2017 interview with Sway Calloway on his SiriusXM radio show.

He also made the claim during a motivational speech that same year. "All of sudden I started going to the library, getting books, standing in front of a mirror reading to myself," Walker says. "So that Herschel that all the kids said was retarded become valedictorian of his class. Graduated University of Georgia in the top 1 percent of his class."

Walker, who was endorsed by Donald Trump, also said in his interview with Spencer that he never heard the former president claim the 2020 election was "stolen."

"Do you think the election was stolen?" Spencer asked Walker.

"I think reporters say that. I don't know whether President Trump has said it. Because he's never said that to me," Walker said.

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When Spencer says Trump has said the election was stolen "over and over," Walker replied by saying, "No, no, no, no. He has never — I've never heard President Trump ever say that."

"But everyone knows that something happened in the election," Walker continued.

A Walker campaign source told PEOPLE the candidate "was simply saying it isn't something the former President talks to him about and that the media obsesses over President Trump's 2020 post-election comments without acknowledging to this day that Stacey Abrams still hasn't conceded."

CNN reports that Walker attended a March rally in Commerce, Georgia, where Trump said the election was stolen, a claim he's made repeatedly despite any evidence of wrongdoing.

"If Brian Kemp is renominated, he will go down in flames at the ballot box," Trump said, referring the current Georgia governor who also won the primary this week. "Because [Abrams] will steal it from him and humiliate him, just like she brazenly stole the Georgia election from right under his nose in 2020."