Politics & Government

Sun Herald's Trump-sea lion lip-lock lands on 'Late Show'

It was the sloppy, wet kiss heard around South Mississippi. And more than 20 years later, a photo of that kiss found its way to the world of late-night comedy television.

A photo of Republican presidential hopeful Donald Trump receiving a kiss from a sea lion at Marine Life Oceanarium in Gulfport was used in the opening sequence of Monday's "Late Show with Stephen Colbert."

The photo was taken by Sun Herald lead photographer John Fitzhugh in the early 1990s.

"Trump was in town because he was pitching a casino to be built around Marine Life in Gulfport," Fitzhugh said. "This was in the early days when casinos had been approved for the Coast, and it was a big deal to have someone like Trump in town -- he was a big name, and he was a successful casino owner."

Fitzhugh said Trump's appearance at Marine Life, an aquatic zoo situated between the Small Craft Harbor and the Port of Gulfport, was a "media circus."

"It received a lot of media attention, both from television and print media," he said.

Trump was attending a show at Marine Life as part of his public appearance when Fitzhugh captured a memorable moment on film.

"As part of the show, one of the sea lions would kiss the trainer," he said. "So Moby Solangi (then-director of Marine Life) brought Trump up, and he had a sea lion kiss him -- they actually did it twice because the sea lion kind of missed him the first time."

Fitzhugh's photo was used Monday night by Colbert, who was spoofing a recent New York Times article on Trump's behavior with women.

Monday's show also happened to have Fox News' Megyn Kelly as a guest. Kelly has been the subject of much verbal abuse from Trump since the first GOP debate at which she was a moderator, but they have since made up.

Tuesday, however, was just another day at work for Fitzhugh, who was on assignment and had no idea his photo was on Colbert's show.

"That's so cool," Fitzhugh said. "Wow!"