A North Carolina woman who made the news after claiming to have taken a picture of a snake mating ball has confessed the picture was actually sent to her by a friend.
In an April 17 tweet that has since been taken down, 23-year-old Christine Proffitt uploaded an image of a large cluster of snakes huddled together in the woods. The image quickly went viral, and soon Proffitt was telling news stations that she snapped the photo while on her daily jog.
"I try to get there early enough when it’s still cool outside, but I got a late start this morning and it was warm enough for all the snakes!" she told The Charlotte Observer via Twitter. "I tend to see at least 4-5 but I’ve never seen them in a bunch like that!"
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She said the same thing in an interview with WCNC.
"Every day I see four or five snakes every time, but I've never seen 10 to 20 all balled up like that," Proffitt said. "No one's going to believe if I didn't take a picture. So, pics or it didn't happen."
"The first thing I did was take out my phone and take a picture," she added. "I was pretty terrified."
Three days later, Proffitt came clean and admitted that her friend, Jessica Jackson, took the picture and sent it to Proffitt and a number of other people.
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Jackson said Proffitt texted her back: "How gross this is." She said that when she saw Proffitt take credit for the image she felt "a little bummed I didn't get credit for it, and I feel robbed."
Jackson, a 33-year-old event coordinator, found the snake mating ball along a path outside the Carolinas Medical Center in Charlotte. She took the picture with her Android phone from a few feet away.
"I didn’t realize it would be seen by the whole nation," she said.
According to Proffitt, two of her friends talked her into lying about the photo so one of them could report on it and impress WBTV, hoping the news station would offer her a job.
She gave the women's names and contact information to The Charlotte Observer, but neither returned a request for comment.
Proffitt stressed that she is not trying to evade responsibility for her actions.
"It was dumb, and terrible judgment on my end," she said. "I take full responsibility. There’s no excuse for what I did. I feel so terrible."