An Irishman crossed paths with former US President Barack Obama in a San Francisco gym and had a hilarious story to tell about the meeting.
Peter Barron, of Co Clare, couldn’t believe his eyes when he saw Obama – so much so that he left, thinking it was merely a lookalike.
However, he would get second chance later on when the former President told him to ‘send my love back to Ireland’.
Peter spoke to the Dave and Dermott show on Todayfm about his initial near miss, and then plucking up the courage to speak to Obama the following day.
He said; “We’d been staying in St Regis and I’d been using the gym. As I was leaving the gym I looked over and saw what looked like Barack Obama.
“So I walked up close and pretended to stretch. I took up my phone and googled an image of him. I obviously know what he looks like but…
“I googled an image and I was holding the phone and I was looking down and looking up.
“And then he was looking at me, probably thinking ‘what is this fella doing?’
“At the time there was one other guy there and he had said a few words to him while I was trying to figure out who he was.
“I said to myself ‘there’s no hope that in San Francisco, the day that I’m in this hotel that Barack Obama is here’ so I left.”
Later Peter’s friend text him to let him know that Obama was indeed staying in the same hotel. His suspicions were heightened when he saw musician John Legend pull up in a fancy car.
He decided to ask at reception, but staff told him they could neither confirm nor deny whether the former President was staying.
After relentless questioning from Peter, one member of staff told him to ‘go with your gut feeling’.
The next morning Peter went back to the gym and as he was using the cross trainer, another guest got on the machine next to him.
The guest was none other than Barack Obama.
Peter said: “I started to panic again. I though ‘right, I’m not leaving this gym without a getting a picture’.
“I went to the other side of the room. I took my phone out – I shouldn’t have done it – but I took a sneaky video of him just in case he said no to a picture!”
Thankfully, Peter gathered his nerve and decided to approach Obama but couldn’t think of much to say so just congratulated him on the service station that was named after him near where his ancestor used to live on the border of Counties Tipperary and Offaly.
Peter said: “I said ‘you did a great job with the Barack Obama Plaza’.”
It turned out to be a great ice-breaker as Obama took a shine to Peter and they had a little chat about Ireland.
Peter continued: “He turned around and said ‘oh you’re Irish, where are you from?’ I said ‘Clare, just over the road.’ He said ‘yeah, we’re family’. He was really friendly then, he was chatting away.”
As more fans of the former President started to enter the gym, Peter realised another chance to get a photo could be about to slip away.
Peter said: “As he was leaving the gym he passed where I was and said ‘it was nice to meet you, send my love back to Ireland’.
“I said to him ‘I know its probably a no but is there any chance of getting a photo?’ he said ‘look, if I give you a photo, I’ll have to take a picture with everyone’.
“I just said ‘that’s fine’ – I have a sneaky video on my phone!”
To listen to Peter’s story in full visit the Todayfm website.