When Provincetown lobsterman Michael Packard found out that the team at “Jimmy Kimmel Live” wanted him to sit in a custom-built whale’s mouth for his late-night television interview, his first thought was, “No way am I getting in that. I’m going back to Cape Cod.”
But from the jowls of an artificial whale in a Los Angeles studio on Wednesday night, Packard relived the tale of when he says he was trapped inside a humpback whale’s mouth while diving for lobster off the coast of Provincetown last Friday.
“It’s the perfect celebration of life,” Packard said of his decision to play along with production. “I survived.”
“First of all, this is not your first near-death experience,” host Kimmel prefaced, touching on Packard’s previous claims of encounters with great white sharks, discovering a body underwater, and surviving a plane crash in Costa Rica. “And then last week you were swallowed by a whale.”
“I wasn’t swallowed, Jimmy. I was in its mouth. Let’s get that straight,” Packard said.
Packard’s first mate, Josiah Mayo, who was driving the boat when Packard had his chance encounter, also appeared on the show and described what he had witnessed:
“We’d done a couple dives, caught [about] 100 pounds of lobster, and [Packard] went down for a third dive. Everything was normal ... His bubbles went away from the boat, and then I just saw these huge boils, splashing and splashing all over the water.”
At first, Mayo said he thought it was a shark attack.
“But then I saw the whale parts. I saw the whale fluke and the whale’s head and I suddenly knew it wasn’t a shark attack, but still, something crazy was happening.”
Packard described what was simultaneously going on underwater.
“I just got hit by a freight truck,” Packard recalled of the moment he became trapped inside the whale’s mouth. “There was this bang and everything went instantly dark.”
His first thought was similar to Mayo’s: “Did I just get eaten by a shark?”
But upon further reflection: “No, sharks mouths aren’t that big. I don’t feel any teeth. Oh great! I didn’t get eaten by a shark!”
If Packard could choose anyone to play him in a movie, he said he’d pick Matt Damon.
“I wonder why you would aim so low?” Kimmel said. “And if he does play you, can the whale eat him? Can that be his final destination?”
Packard ended his interview with an apology: “I want to apologize to the whale for getting in his way. I won’t ever do it again.”
And then a plug: “If anyone wants to buy any of my lobsters, we sell them wholesale at Wellfleet Shellfish Company in Eastham, Massachusetts.”
Watch the full interview: