DeSantis Keeps Switching How He Says His Name

Yearslong puzzle on how to pronounce surname reignites now that he's running for president
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 1, 2023 8:41 AM CDT
No One Knows How to Say Ron DeSantis' Name— Including DeSantis
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, right, listens to his wife, Casey, speak at a presidential campaign event on Wednesday in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.   (AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall)

Now that Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has officially jumped into the 2024 presidential race, people have lots of questions on what he plans to do if he's elected to the Oval Office. But another question has emerged of late, and it's a more personal one: How the heck do you pronounce his last name? The head-scratcher gained traction in March, when someone on Twitter posted a compilation of short video clips in which DeSantis can be seen in earlier years introducing himself as "Ron Dee-Santis," only to shift after he started serving as governor in 2019 to saying "Ron Deh-Santis." "Who changes the pronunciation of their own last name in their 40's?" the person behind the post wrote. comes down on the side of "Deh-Santis," but that definitely doesn't seem to be the final word. More on the pronunciation pandemonium:

  • Timeline: Margaret Hartmann at Intelligencer takes a deep dive into the matter, looking at footage stretching back to 2012. She finds that DeSantis pretty consistently said "Dee-Santis" until about 2016, at which point he started flipping back and forth between the two versions. "I am Italian American," Hartmann writes. "I have plenty of family members who say their last names differently from their cousins and even their parents, and I know firsthand that it's often easier to shrug off other people's mispronunciations. But I have never heard of an elected official repeatedly switching the pronunciation of his own name, over the course of many years, with no clear rhyme or reason."
  • Schoolboy nickname? Intelligencer also notes that, in 2018, the Tampa Bay Times reported that DeSantis' nickname in high school was "Dee," which would seem to lend weight to the "Dee-Santis" choice. That Times article has since been updated and now no longer contains that anecdote.
  • How his wife says it: In footage shared in October, Casey DeSantis goes with "Deh-Santis" in referring to her spouse, per the Daily Dot.

  • Then there's this: At DeSantis' 2022 inauguration ceremony, Florida Chief Justice Carlos Muniz swore him in as "Ron Dee-Santis." In his mirrored response, the governor referred to himself as "Ron Deh-Santis."
  • Past preferences: In 2018, a spokesperson told News4Jax that the then-gubernatorial candidate preferred "Dee-Santis," and that he'd always said it that way. "Hard D: DeeSantis. Just the way he pronounces in the ads," the rep insisted.
  • And now? Axios reached out to DeSantis' campaign and heard nothing back. His Never Back Down super PAC, meanwhile, "declined to say." Still, in his presidential campaign launch video from last week, DeSantis reverted back to "Dee-Santis."
  • Trump's take: The former president, who's apparently been test-ballooning what nickname to give his most prominent rival for the GOP nomination, weighed in on Wednesday, per Florida Politics. "Have you heard that 'Rob' DeSanctimonious wants to change his name, again," Trump wrote on Truth Social. "He is demanding that people call him DeeeSantis, rather than DaSantis. Actually, I like 'Da' better, a nicer flow, so I am happy he is changing it." Trump then added: "He gets very upset when people, including reporters, don't pronounce it correctly. Therefore, he shouldn't mind, DeSanctimonious?"
  • And so we wait: The New York Times, which notes that Aussie Prime Minister Anthony Albanese also has a history of waffling on his own name, says we'll likely hear more from DeSantis himself as campaign ads for him start popping up on TV and he'll have to say the words mandated by federal law: "I'm Ron DeSantis and I approve this message."
(More Ron DeSantis stories.)

Get the news faster.
Tap to install our app.
Install the Newser News app
in two easy steps:
1. Tap in your navigation bar.
2. Tap to Add to Home Screen.