He explains his thinking:
"I shined shoes. I grew up in a five-room apartment. My father had a little laundromat in a black community not far from where we lived. I saw it all growing up."
Hours after the interview spread all over the Internet Monday, Blagojevich was in front of television cameras -- where he longs to be -- apologizing for his comments.
"What I said was stupid, stupid, stupid," he told NBC. No one disagreed.
"What I said was a metaphor. Obviously, I'm not blacker than President Obama. It was a stupid way of saying something. I apologize for being, for saying that and for saying that in such a stupid way. It was a stupid metaphor expressing real frustration."
Blagojevich was impeached as Illinois governor last year amid accusations that he tried to sell Obama's former Senate seat. He repeated his claims of innocence in the Esquire interview.
"It's shocking that this could happen in America. Because I'm telling you, I am innocent of every single allegation. Every one. I've been falsely accused. I'm fighting for what is at the basis of what our country is supposed to be, a place where you're presumed innocent."
His trial starts in June.