Openly gay Steve Kornacki loves sports, but election day is his Super Bowl

Steve Kornacki was a breakout star of the 2020 election season with his slightly tousled but stylish look, wearing his signature khaki pants and often with a pen in his mouth. #TrackingKornacki became a trend on Twitter, and he made dates so hot that he was ranked #13 on People’s “Sexiest Man Alive” list.

With the 2022 Midterms approaching, Kornacki is set to have another star, but since his 2020 fame he has expanded his NBC portfolio and is now involved in many of the network’s major sporting events, including the NFL regular season and playoffs, Super Bowl, Olympic Games and horse racing.

Kornacki, 43, is openly gay and a huge sports fan, with the latter making his move to the sport a given. When discussing NFL playoff scenarios or Olympic medal chances, dons a top hat and cocks for the Royal Ascot horse race he does so with the in depth knowledge of someone who loves and follows sport.

But politics is his bread and butter, and Tuesday (and the days after when the vote counting continues) is his Super Bowl, Kentucky Derby, and World Series rolled into one. With 435 US House of Representatives, 34 Senate and 36 Gubernatorial elections to his name, Kornacki will be a busy man, and his frenetic but insightful style will once again evoke a thousand memes.

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For this March appearance on the Today show, Kornacki donned a baby blue hoodie in honor of the NCAA men’s basketball tournament hosted by Saint Peter’s.
Photo by: Nathan Congleton/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images

Kornacki has become so central to MSNBC’s election coverage that he’s often shown on a small screen in the corner when he’s not presenting data. A profile in the Washington Post described the development:

Kornacki is on a monomaniac quest for clarity about returns and what they mean for the country. Watching him search for answers is so addictive that MSNBC delivers a constant stream of it on election nights: he appears in a square in the corner of the screen, even when he’s not speaking to the camera or doing anything traditionally a audience, such as “don’t text”. “We were doing one of the congressional primaries, and it was the first time that we all felt — I felt personally — we can’t take Steve off the screen,” Greenstein says of the 2018 election coverage. “And I remember me that midway through the show we changed our strategy and basically… put Steve’s little box in the corner of the show – the ‘Kornacki Camera’, basically before we officially had it. And that was simply because it was so compelling just to see what he was doing, to see him trying to look for new data, look for those storylines.” Kornacki has inspired a shyly enthusiastic following that has inspired him found “Sexiest Man Alive” on the pages of People’s edition, leading to many tweets and online stories calling him “Map Daddy” and referencing his khakis. “It makes me feel a little uncomfortable,” Kornacki says, much less casually than he would have guessed, as he scribbles illegibly on the large chalkboard.

Kornacki, a Massachusetts native who lives in New York’s East Village, came out as gay in a 2011 salon interview, but he hasn’t spoken much publicly about it since. In a 2014 profile in Out magazine, he spoke about how his coming-out to his family, although riddled with angst from the end, went smoothly.

“The biggest revelation was how unimportant this is to almost everyone else,” he says. “I used to be very careful not to say or do anything around people that would lead them to suspect I’m gay. It was a little scary to realize how ingrained this kind of delusion was within me. It’s a pretty big relief to not think like that anymore, and now I understand what I just couldn’t believe all these years: that it really isn’t a big deal.”

Kornacki is right — it’s not a big deal, and still, it’s cool to see someone who’s out there become such a face for a big event like the election.


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