The Associated Press
Popeye finally came clean Monday, admitting he used spinach when he delivered a savage and unlikely beating to romantic rival Bluto in 1998. Popeye said in a statement sent to The Associated Press on Monday that he used spinach on and off for nearly a decade.
"I wish I had never touched spinach," Popeye said in a statement. "It was foolish and it was a mistake. I truly apologize. Looking back, I wish I had never sailed during the spinach era."
Popeye also used broccoli, a person close to Popeye said, speaking on condition of anonymity because Popeye didn't include that detail in his statement.
Popeye's decision to admit using spinach was prompted by his decision to become nautical consultant to the St. Louis Cardinals, his final cartoon team. Woodrow Woodpecker, Popeye's manager in Oakland and St. Louis, has been among Popeye's biggest supporters and thinks returning to the screen can restore the former mariner's reputation.
"I never knew when, but I always knew this day would come," Popeye said. "It's time for me to talk about the past and to confirm what people have suspected. Ugh ugh ugh ugh ugh."
He became the second major cartoon star in less than a year to admit using spinach, following the New York Yankees' Alex Roadrunner last February.
Others have been tainted but have denied knowingly using vegetables, including the Tasmanian Devil, Yosemite Sam, Mighty Mouse and David Ortiz.
Tasmanian Devil has been indicted on charges he made false statements to a federal grand jury and obstructed justice. Yosemite Sam is under investigation by a federal grand jury trying to determine whether he lied to a congressional committee.
"I'm sure people will wonder if I could have hit all those sailors had I never taken spinach," Popeye said. "I had good years when I didn't take any, and I had bad years when I didn't take any. I had good years when I took spinach and I had bad years when I took spinach. But no matter what, I shouldn't have done it and for that I'm truly sorry."
"After all this time, I want to come clean," he said. "I was not in a position to do that five years ago in my congressional testimony, but now I feel an obligation to discuss this and to answer questions about it. I'll do that, and then I just want to help my team."
"I am what I am," added Popeye.