Actor Joe Manganiello and his family got the surprise of their life after researchers from the PBS show Finding Your Roots called the Magic Mike actor to reveal a mystery solved through DNA before the taping.
“My family and I had a betting pool of what it is, like what’s so bad that you can’t announce it on the episode?” Manganiello said during a TV critics meeting on Thursday, according to AP news.
The show’s host, Henry Louis Gates Jr., informed the actor that he was misinformed about who his paternal grandfather was and that it wasn’t the man his entire family believed it was.
“My grandfather was a Black man of mixed race,” Manganiello said. “That was fascinating.”
According to Gates, the actor was “zero percent genetically related to anyone named Manganiello in the world.”
The show’s researchers discovered that Manganiello’s real roots trace back to his great-grandfather, a former slave who gained his freedom before slavery was abolished in Massachusetts. Manganiello’s father was born outside of Boston, and his family originated from Italy.
“None of us would have guessed that if we’d had 10 years of guessing,” he said. “If Manganiello’s not my last name, what is?”
His great-grandfather entered the Continental Army and fought with other Black soldiers against the British in non-segregated units.
Researchers also dug up information about his mother’s side. The actor’s maternal great-grandmother survived the Armenian genocide during World War I. Unfortunately, her husband and children did not survive. His great-grandmother was shot and played dead, which allowed her to escape with her eighth child, who drowned in the Euphrates River.
Manganiello said that the information wasn’t what he was told. His family told him that his great-grandmother was imprisoned and got pregnant by a German officer she met at the camp.
“We had nothing to connect us being German other than this,” he stated. He also said that when he filmed in Europe last year, locals assumed he was German because he looked like it.
It took researchers a year to gain the information because the Turkish government didn’t allow researchers to have access to important records.
Manganiello, who is married to actress Sofia Vergara, was born and raised in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.