Tim McGraw Is the Only Man Alive Who Looks Hot Holding a Dead Fish

The dead fish pose has long been one of the most widely mocked internet clichés, so how does Tim McGraw look so good doing it?

A photo of a shirtless Tim McGraw holding up a large fish on a dock
An investigation is currently under way to determine how Tim McGraw looks so hot holding this fish.

Did you guys know Tim McGraw is hot? Because I was completely unaware of this undeniable fact until about three days ago, when the country music legend blessed Instagram with a shirtless photo of himself looking bronzed and absolutely shredded in a pair of perfectly short swim trunks while holding up a massive fish he’d recently slain.

For days now I’ve been poring over this photo, not just because I’m incredibly thirsty, but because I’m trying to decipher its secrets. It’s not just the shock of discovering that McGraw — a middle-aged country star whose physique I would’ve presumed to be more honky-tonk than hot dad — is sexy that’s thrown me for a loop. Rather, it’s that McGraw manages to look hot while committing one of the most egregious sins a man posting a photo of himself on the internet can: holding up a dead fish.

Posing with a dead fish is an original Tinder faux pas, a cliché so long and widely mocked that it has long since passed the point of irony. And yet, here’s Tim McGraw, foisting up a scaly trophy more than half the length of his own tanned bod and looking like freaking god of the sea while doing so.

Perhaps McGraw’s baffling ability to pull off this controversial pose lies in the simple fact that the blinding hotness of his technically good physique distracts from the fish entirely. As many — many — of the star’s thirsty followers were quick to point out in the comments, the fish (massive though it may be) is hardly the focal point of that photo. While a few more diplomatic commenters politely congratulated McGraw on his catch, the general consensus among the enamored moms in the star’s comments was clear: “What fish?”

The idea that McGraw’s shredded, ever-so-slightly sunburned aesthetic is so unimpeachably gorgeous it overshadows the offending fish altogether is a comforting theory for someone like me, who has spent the better part of my career actively discouraging the fish men of the internet. Unfortunately, I’m afraid it just doesn’t tell the whole story.

Somehow, I doubt the same photo of McGraw and his bod sans fish would elicit quite as strong a response. The fish is doing something here, and whatever it is, I regret to admit it’s working. Maybe it’s because there’s a certain humility to the photo, and an unassuming purity to the caption: “Another great day out on the water… got a wahoo!!!!!” There’s no way McGraw isn’t aware of what he’s doing, showing off both his fresh kill and his killer physique, but there’s an indecipherable veil of modesty that somehow keeps the star from looking like an arrogant, fish-slaying douche. Perhaps it’s because, in presenting us with two equally impressive specimens, we can’t tell which one he’s trying to show off, so he doesn’t come off as a show-off at all.

Whatever it is, McGraw’s fish pic does what I can only imagine most of the fish men of Tinder think the pose is doing for them. I wish I could offer more concrete advice to those proud fish-wranglers who long, desperately, to be able to show off their kill without ridicule — especially because my editor told me I could only write this thirsty ode to McGraw and his fish if I were able to point out what, specifically, makes it work. Maybe the key to pulling off a fish photo is simply to be exceptionally attractive, or maybe you just have to be Tim McGraw.

Look, this photo was an anomaly, one for which I don’t think any of us were prepared. Until further research can be devoted to this jarring, extremely sexy incident, I cannot in good conscience condone trying to recreate the feat McGraw has pulled off here. Even if you’re vaccinated, the CDC does not recommend posing with a dead fish. Unless you’re Tim McGraw.

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