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Fact Check-Chris Rock did not wear a cheek pad during Academy Awards slap

Social media users are sharing an altered version of a Reuters photograph claiming to show that Chris Rock was wearing a pad on his cheek when actor Will Smith hit him at the 2022 Academy Awards.

Examples can be seen (here) and (here).

The text in one post (here ) reads: “If you think the slap was real. Then why is Chris Rock wearing a prosthetic pad on his cheek? Plus his hands are behind his back and he leans forward. Fake fake fake. All for ratings.”

Best actor winner Will Smith smacked presenter Chris Rock in the face and shouted a vulgarity at the comedian for making a joke about his wife's hairstyle in a shocking moment overshadowing the Oscars ceremony on March 27, 2022 (here).

About 45 minutes later, when accepting his first Oscar for best actor for his role in "King Richard," Smith apologized to the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and his fellow nominees in a tear-filled speech, but not to Rock (here).

Smith apologized to Rock on March 28, 2022, issuing a statement (here) after the film academy said it might take action against him, for an incident that overshadowed the industry's top awards (here).

The image in the posts show a Reuters photograph by Brian Snyder (here) captioned: “Will Smith (R) hits Chris Rock as Rock spoke on stage during the 94th Academy Awards in Hollywood, Los Angeles, California, U.S., March 27, 2022.”

The photograph is sized 2713px × 1793px, not 8K quality, which is sized 7,680px x 4,320px.

A comparison of the original and altered photographs can be seen (here). What appear to be skin tone and natural face wrinkles in the original photo were likely edited in the version on social media.

Photos from that night show Rock had a light stubble (here), (here), something that should be visible on the apparently more "high definition" photo circulating on social media. Instead, his face appears smooth and clean shaven, another indication the image was digitally altered.

Reuters photographs of the moment before and after the hit can be seen (here), (here), (here) and (here). None of the photographs show a pad on Rock’s cheek and his skin appears smooth.

A video of the moment is visible (here).

VERDICT

Altered. The image appears to be digitally altered to make it seem like Chris Rock was wearing a pad on his left cheek when he was hit by Will Smith.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work  here  .         

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