President Joe Biden made a cringeworthy joke as he told an audience at the White House Thursday night that he’d known actress and director Eva Longoria for ‘a long time.’
‘She was 17, I was 40,’ the 80-year-old commander-in-chief said about the 48-year-old actress, receiving laughs from members of the crowd.
The president held Longoria’s hand and the hand of his wife, first lady Jill Biden, as the trio walked out onto the South Lawn to give introductory remarks at a screening of Longoria’s new film, Flamin’ Hot – her directorial debut.
It tells the debunked story of Richard Montañez, who claimed to be the inventor of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos before a 2021 Los Angeles Times investigation reported otherwise. Longoria has ignored those trying to fact-check Montañez’s story.
‘As you may have heard already, Richard Montañez disrupted the food industry in the 90s by channeling his Mexican-American heritage to help turn Flamin’ Hot Cheetos into a multi-billion dollar brand today and a cultural phenomenon,’ Longoria said.
President Joe Biden (center) walked out onto the South Lawn Thursday night holding hands with first lady Jill Biden (left) and actress-turned-director Eva Longoria (right) as part of a White House screening of Longoria’s new film, Flamin’ Hot
President Joe Biden (right) made a cringey joke about how long he’s known Eva Longoria (right), a Democratic activist. ‘She was 17, I was 40,’ the 80-year-old commander-in-chief said about the 48-year-old actress
‘We’re telling a story that celebrates the American entrepreneurial dream without sidestepping the fact that the dream isn’t available in the same way for everyone,’ she continued.
She pointed out that while talent is ‘evenly distributed in this world – opportunities have not been.’
‘Which is why we rarely get to see movies where we are the heroes,’ she said of the Latino community. ‘Let alone a janitor-turned-corporate executive.’
A poster for Eva Longoria’s directorial debut, Flamin’ Hot, which can be streamed on Disney+ and Hulu
‘So I knew I wanted to highlight his story, his life and the importance and power of the Latino community within American culture,’ she said. ‘So we worked hard to produce this authentic film steeped in inclusion – both in front of and behind the cameras.’
So now we get to bring this story to la Casa Blanca!’ she exclaimed, adding that it was under an administration that ‘believes in our community and shares our values.’
Despite her long times to the Democratic Party and the Bidens she indicated she was surprised that her film was given a White House screening.
‘It’s a dream I didn’t even know I had,’ she told the crowd.
She added that she had been working with Biden for ‘many, many years.’
‘And it has always been a great joy,’ she added. ‘We share so much. He’s been a champion for working people in search of the American dream.’
Longoria said thanks to Biden ‘there’s going to be a lot more Richard Montañezes ready and waiting to take their shot to make history.’
‘The man who’s been fighting for us all, fighting for Latinos, fighting for Americans, fighting for workers and most importantly – fighting for democracy,’ she said to cheers. ‘A man who understand and embodies the values of family, community and perseverance.’
Biden greeted the crowd by giving his trademark, ‘I’m Jill Biden’s husband.’
When an audience member yelled, ‘I love you,’ the commander-in-chief shouted back, ‘I accept!’
He congratulated Longoria for her directorial debut and said the movie made him think about the ‘courage’ displayed by immigrants leaving home and coming to the U.S.
The screening is part of Immigrant Heritage Month.
The movie has already premiered on Disney+ and Hulu.
President Joe Biden hugs Eva Longoria before a screening of the film Flamin’ Hot, on June 15, 2023, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington
Eva Longoria speaks before President Joe Biden ahead of a screening of the film Flamin’ Hot on June 15, 2023 on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington
President Joe Biden reacts before speaking ahead of a screening of the film Flamin’ Hot on June 15, 2023, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington
Flamin’ Hot tells the story of Richard Montañez, played by Jesse Garcia (pictured), who claims he invented the spicy Cheetos flavor. In 2021, the Los Angeles Times broke the story that Montañez long-told story was largely false, with even the chip giant saying so
Longoria was already attached to the film project by the time the Los Angeles Times punched holes in Montañez’s story, looking into the Mexican-American businessman as his second memoir was about to debut.
The LA Times was able to get Frito-Lay to say on-the-record that Montañez’s didn’t invent the popular snack.
‘None of our records show that Richard was involved in any capacity in the Flamin’ Hot test market,’ Frito-Lay wrote in a statement to The Times.
The company had conducted an internal investigation into Montañez’s claims, The Times revealed.
‘We have interviewed multiple personnel who were involved in the test market, and all of them indicate that Richard was not involved in any capacity in the test market,’ the statement continued. ‘That doesn’t mean we don’t celebrate Richard, but the facts do not support the urban legend.’
The Times found that Flamin’ Hot Cheetos were created by a team of snack food professionals in Plano, Texas in 1989.
A junior employee named Lynne Greenfeld was assigned to create the brand and came up with the name, the report said.
Montañez started telling people he created the spicy cheese twists in the early 2000s.
He claimed that he took home a batch of unflavored Cheetos after a machine broke down and flavored them himself – bringing them the spice and zest of Mexican cuisine.
Greenfield alerted Frito-Lay of Montañez’s false claims in 2018 and an internal investigation ensued.
‘We value Richard’s many contributions to our company, especially his insights into Hispanic consumers, but we do not credit the creation of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos or any Flamin’ Hot products to him,’ the company told The Times.
Longoria – a longtime fixture in Democratic politics – was already attached to the film project by the time the LA Times report came out.
In recent interviews about the film, she’s brushed Montañez’s mistruths.
‘That story never affected us,’ she told the LA Times. ‘Feels like LA Times would have better resources dedicated to more important things.’
‘We never set out to tell the history of the Cheeto,’ she added. ‘We are telling Richard Montañez’s’ and we’re telling his truth.’
Montañez did truly rise up the ranks – and he is accurately credited with targeting the Hispanic market as a marketing guru.
That’s what Longoria said she’s focused on.
‘Richard’s story is our story. We are all Richard Montañez,’ she told the paper in a phone interview in March. ‘There’s been a time in our lives where somebody said, “No, no, no. Ideas don’t come from people like you.” “No, no, no. I don’t think you’re quite qualified for that.”‘
‘And so I think we all are going to relate to his perseverance and his belief in himself. How he just was like, “Why not?” He dared to ask, “But why not me?”‘
The White House indicated the film was picked because it celebrated diversity.
‘This film is about the strength of faith and family to empower and uplift. Similar to other White House screenings of Till and American Born Chinese, this is an opportunity for Americans from different backgrounds to see themselves reflected in, and celebrated by, the White House,’ a White House official told DailyMail.com.