He may seem an unlikely heartthrob, with his white shirt, striped tie and standard-issue khakis, looking more like an H&R Block tax preparer than the star of a cable news network. But as Americans stayed glued to their TVs this week, watching every anxiety-inducing twist and turn of this unprecedented presidential election, MSNBC data expert Steve Kornacki emerged as a national obsession.
Going 24-hour days without seemingly any sleep, Kornacki was a soothingly nerdy presence: identifying obscure, but key, counties in states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (and explaining why their early vote totals might be misleading), and metaphorically holding the nation’s hand as it went through a collective nervous breakdown.
Never has a command of math seemed so sexy.
“I’m trying to follow the details of each state but keep getting distracted by how hot Steve Kornacki is,” wrote one Twitter admirer. Another seemed on the edge of meltdown after days of watching Kornacki crunching numbers: “Oh sweet energetic @SteveKornacki. it’s your time to shine, you perfect sexy king. Take my pain away with your charts and graphs and numbers. I lay my body at the alter of your big board.”
One of the questions that many people had, especially as the Tuesday’s results bled into Wednesday, with Kornacki on screen almost the entire time: Does the man ever sleep? As the MSNBC contributor Joyce Vance tweeted on Wednesday, “How is @SteveKornacki still lucid?” Even Chrissy Teigen weighed in:
I honestly dunno how steve is still going im bout to die pic.twitter.com/R8IEt8lbIj
— chrissy teigen (@chrissyteigen) November 5, 2020
The Washington Post put the sleep question to MSNBC for a profile of Kornacki that ran on Thursday. “He has not slept since he was on Morning Joe yesterday,” the spokesperson told the Post via text message late Wednesday morning. But, 30 minutes later, the spokesperson updated the paper with a text that Kornacki was finally “taking a break” from the big board.
Kornacki himself took to Twitter on Thursday to reassure his fans he was OK.
Forget grabbing sleep, there's still votes coming in in PA. I'm heading back to the studio. In the old days, there was USA Up All Night. Tonight, it'll be MSNBC Up All Night. Come on along for the ride.
— Steve Kornacki (@SteveKornacki) November 6, 2020
Here is all we know about Kornacki. The 41-year-old national political correspondent for NBC News is a graduate of Boston University, and started his journalism career as a reporter for PoliticsNJ.com, a New Jersey political news site, before going on to Roll Call and Salon before joining MSNBC in 2013. According to a profile in GQ, Kornacki hasn’t eaten breakfast “in 28 or 29 years” and seems to largely exist on Diet Coke. He is the author of The Red and the Blue: The 1990s and the Birth of Political Tribalism. And he’s gay, coming out in an emotional column he wrote for Salon four years ago.
That news that Kornacki is gay delighted his male fans and only temporarily disheartened his female ones.
when will my husband, steve kornacki, return from war
— David Mack (@davidmackau) November 5, 2020
it has really been a pleasure to see my husband and the love of my life steve kornacki become embraced by the populace this week, it is an honor to share him with all of you, for he is now america’s boyfriend
— ben e (@jeanpierreload) November 6, 2020
— Aaron Sarlo (@AaronSarlo) November 6, 2020
Why did no one tell me Steve Kornacki is a gay man!!!! I thought he was my boyfriend all week and now I love him even more
— Grace Trilla (@TRILLogy1) November 5, 2020
— Caylin 💜 (@caylinbach) November 4, 2020
Three years ago, one writer summed up Kornacki’s appeal, especially in contrast to that of other openly gay anchors, thusly: “He is maybe not as hunky as Thomas Roberts or as beautiful and daring as Anderson Cooper, but he is exactly the sort of nice, handsome, clean-cut boy you could bring home to meet the folks.”
The only thing that rivaled Twitter’s obsession with Kornacki’s love life was its fascination with his wardrobe. The Strategist site of New York magazine even did a deep dive on the specific pair of khakis that Kornacki wore during the election coverage, and finding out from his producer that they came from the Gap. A little more research revealed that they come in a color called “palomino brown” and that they were probably the straight-fit Modern Khaki version ($60).
Others just wondered if Kornacki kept a supply of identical outfits in a closet at the MSNBC studio or just basically wore the same clothes for as many days in row as he could get away with.
— Jeff Stickels (@jeffstickels) November 5, 2020
I assume @SteveKornacki has a supply of clean shirts off set, but pretty sure those are the same pants he’s been wearing since Tuesday.
— Jacob Weisberg (@jacobwe) November 6, 2020
Steve Kornacki changed his shirt. That must mean something. Right?
— Lisa Miller (@lisaxmiller) November 5, 2020