Donald Trump considered ripping off his dress shirt – to reveal a Superman T-shirt underneath – when he was released from hospital after being treated for Covid-19, aides have revealed.
The US President floated the bizarre plan in a series of phone calls from his presidential suite at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Centre, The New York Times reports.
When he left the hospital – where he was taken after testing positive to coronavirus just over a week ago – he "wanted to appear frail at first when people saw him", people with knowledge of the conversation said.
But underneath his button-down dress shirt, "he would wear a Superman T-shirt, which he would reveal as a symbol of strength when he ripped open the top layer".
It's not clear why the president – who has suggested since contracting Covid-19 that he might be "immune" and that the American public should not let the pandemic "dominate" them" – opted not to go through with the plan.
Trump returned to the White House on October 5 – sans Superman suit – and in a video message told people he'd "learned so much about coronavirus" – a disease that's killed at least 215,000 Americans.
"And one thing's for certain, don't let it dominate you," he said.
"Don't let it take over your lives. Don't let that happen. We have the greatest country in the world. We're going back, we're going back to work. We're going to be out front.
"As your leader, I had to do that. I knew there's danger to it, but I had to do it. I stood out front, I led. Nobody that's a leader would not do what I did. And I know there's a risk, there's a danger, but that's okay."
During his first public interview after testing positive – a 55-minute, rambling affair – Trump told Fox Business host Maria Bartiromo that he was able to beat the disease because he's in such great shape.
"I'm back because I am a perfect physical specimen and I'm extremely young. And so I'm lucky in that way," he said.
Quizzed over how the virus affected him on Tucker Carlson Tonight on Fox News last Friday, the president said his most prominent symptom was that he "didn't feel strong".
"I didn't feel strong, didn't feel really strong," he told Dr Mark Siegel, a Fox News contributor.
"I didn't have a problem with breathing, which a lot of people have, I didn't have a problem with any of that. But I didn't feel very strong. I didn't feel very vital like the president of the United States should feel."