Screenshot: YouTube

We’re less than a week shy of the one-year anniversary of the day everything changed. Yes, it’s been a year since photos of Ben Affleck’s back tattoo hit the web, bridging divides both political and ideological as everyone agreed that it was terrible. His buddy, Matt Damon, snickered about it, while Affleck’s ex, Jennifer Lopez, called it “awful.” Now, Affleck has, for the first time, confirmed that it is both real and, to him, “meaningful.”

His confirmation of its validity is notable, as the actor previously told Extra’s Mario Lopez that the tattoo was “fake for a movie.” On The Ellen DeGeneres Show, though, Affleck was forced to own up to it and to address the public’s reaction to it, which, he acknowledged, was “not so much positive.”

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I mean, look at this thing.

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“It wasn’t like I was doing photoshoots or whatever, we were two hours north of the city on an island in Hawaii and we didn’t know the paparazzi were there,” Affleck told DeGeneres of the viral photos. “So they got a picture of my tattoo. And sentiment ran…you know, against.”

For Affleck, though, the garish, kaleidoscopic phoenix “represents something important to me,” something that his ex-wife Jennifer Garner really hopes has nothing to do with her. “It’s meaningful to me, I like it,” he continued. “I love my tattoo. I’m very happy with it. Luckily, I’m the one who has it.”

In reporting on Affleck’s new comments, People re-upped a quote from a source with knowledge of the tattoo’s inception. Saying Affleck got the tattoo back in 2015 in the midst of his split from Garner, the source said “they had a huge tattoo machine at the house for days” and that “it took hours and hours to finish.”

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So, now that this business with the actual tattoo is finished, there is a new mystery to consider: What the hell is a tattoo machine? And just how “huge” do they get?

Watch the interview below.

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