On May 1, 2023, social media posts claimed that late-night television host Conan O'Brien once tried to see how long he could spin his wedding ring on air during the 2007–08 Writers Guild of America (WGA) strike. The claims coincided with the WGA announcing it would begin striking on May 2, 2023.
"I mainly remember Conan honoring the strike and doing shit like seeing how long he could spin his wedding ring on his desk, the man was a real one for that," one Twitter user posted on May 1, 2023.
I mainly remember Conan honoring the strike and doing shit like seeing how long he could spin his wedding ring on his desk, the man was a real one for that https://t.co/dKaPB2sgio
— AK Lingus (@aklingus) May 1, 2023
The posts were right. O'Brien did spin his wedding ring on his desk to fill airtime on the first episode his show, "Late Night with Conan O'Brien," aired after the WGA began striking on Nov. 5, 2007.
During the monologue of the episode, O'Brien repeatedly referenced the strike. He said at the start of the monologue that the show had gone off the air for two months in support of the striking writers:
This has been a very tough time, not only for our show but for a lot of people in the entertainment industry. Good people are out of work. And possibly worse, with all the late night shows off the air, Americans have been forced to read books and occasionally even speak to one another.
O'Brien claimed if rehearsals got boring over the years he sometimes would take off his wedding ring to see how long he could spin it (the ring discussion starts at the 10:06 mark in the episode). He also said his production assistant began to time the spins to see how long they lasted. O'Brien then tried to beat his record on air of 41 seconds.
O'Brien did not beat the record. The spin only lasted for 36 seconds. An audience member then shouted that he should do it again, to which O'Brien replied, "Trust me, there's time to do it again."
Reputable publications have written about O'Brien spinning his wedding ring in the years since.
Paste Magazine mentioned it when writing about the episode in an article about top moments of the show during the strike. It wrote, "It's also a thrill to see a show that's already kind of a deconstruction of talk shows deconstruct itself further out of necessity: what will late night shows be like when the apocalypse comes?"
Other publications like Vanity Fair have written about the ring-spinning while analyzing the potential impact of the 2023 WGA strike.