Former President Barack Obama surprised a fellow traveler at Anchorage International Airport on Monday by snapping a few shots with the woman’s toddler, though the pictures are gaining attention for another reason altogether.
Jolene Jackinsky told ABC News she was waiting for a private flight at the airport last Monday when she spotted a man who appeared to be the 44th president.
— ABC News (@ABC) July 8, 2017
“As I got closer, I thought: Oh my God, it is Obama,” Jackinsky said.
The former president, who was reportedly heading home from a vacation, approached Jackinsky and asked: “Who is this pretty girl?”
“He talked about how fast kids grow up,” she told the Alaska Dispatch News. “He said his daughter is going into college pretty soon. He asked if I had a phone to take pictures and did a selfie with us.”
Jackinsky said she talked briefly with Obama about how fast children grow up as he held her baby, 6-month-old Giselle, and she snapped several pictures. When Giselle’s father joined, Obama joked “I’m taking your baby,” Jackinsky told ABC News.
Jackinsky later posted the pictures to Facebook, and they also circulated on Twitter, where several users pointed out Obama wasn’t wearing his wedding ring.
“He doesn’t wear his ring anymore and Michelle is never around hmmm,” K.D. Cormican posted to Twitter.
“I wonder why he’s missing his wedding band,” Matt Carter added.
“Maybe he had too much sodium the day before” Sobey Smith-Roebollar replied.
The airport encounter isn’t the first time Obama has been photographed without his wedding ring, according to The American Mirror.
The ex-president has repeatedly ditched the band while he’s away from his wife Michelle, including an August town hall meeting in Laos, and a golf outing covered by the Free Beacon in August 2015.
“Obama, who was at Camp David in Maryland on Sunday, arrived back at the White House and was photographed by the Associated Press without a ring on his hand. He was playing golf earlier in the day to celebrate his birthday, which come this Tuesday,” the Beacon reported at the time.
“Obama’s ring, however, was off his finger long before he stepped on the course. He was photographed on Friday signing highway funding legislation and was not wearing his ring.”
New reports show Obama traveled to Indonesia before stopping in Southwest Alaska last week. An airport spokesman confirmed to KTUU that Obama spent about 40 minutes at the airport as his plane refueled. He was reportedly returning from a family vacation in Indonesia.
Jackinsky said the encounter with Obama lasted only about 5 minutes, and was supervised by multiple Secret Service agents.
“Two guys in black suits were sitting like 15 feet away, near the entrance,” she told the news site. “It was unreal, very exciting. After I met him I couldn’t believe I actually talked to him and he held my baby.”
The mother told the Dispatch News the brief encounter left the family stunned for their flight to the Bristol Bay region of Alaska.
“We just kept looking at the picture,” Jackinsky said. “It’s just an awesome experience we get to share. He was president when my daughter was born, so we can let her know how special that is when she gets older.”