Just got word that will shock the world – Land of the free…home of the brave DAMN PROUD TO BE AN AMERICAN!
— Dwayne Johnson (@TheRock) May 2, 2011
On May 1, 2011, at approximately 2 p.m. eastern time, U.S. military forces stormed the Abbottabad, Pakistan compound of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. Forty minutes later, bin Laden was dead.
An hour after that, President Obama received word that the mission to kill bin Laden was likely a success. By 7 p.m., that report was firmed up and Obama prepared to address the nation. And, finally, at 11:35 p.m., he went on television to share the historic news.
But just over an hour before he did, wrestler-turned-actor Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson beat him — and the rest of the world — to the punch.
At 10:24 p.m., Johnson tweeted the message above. Although he has routinely declined to substantively comment about the tweet, it is widely accepted by the news media that it refers to bin Laden’s death.
And now, the obvious question: How did Johnson know?
While the answer may never be known for certain, the most often cited theory is that Johnson heard the news from his cousin, a Navy SEAL (one of the groups integral to the mission to kill bin Laden).
It’s also possible that Johnson, for whatever reason, was parroting a tweet from Keith Urbahn, the former chief of staff to former U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. Some sources say Urbahn’s tweet actually went out before Johnson’s did (by a matter of seconds) — although even that seems to be debated.
But regardless of Urbahn or Johnson or any of the other hundreds upon hundreds of people in-the-know well before the news went public, this historic night finally crystallized at 11:35 p.m., when President Obama stepped up to the podium in the White House’s East Room: