An 89-year-old man who has announced every inauguration parade since Dwight D. Eisenhower’s second term in 1956 is “heartbroken” after President-elect Donald Trump benched him in favor of a new lead announcer.
Charles Brotman told CNN‘s Carol Costello on Monday that he thought he “was going to commit suicide” when he first read an email from the Trump transition team telling him he would not be the announcer at the president-elect’s inauguration on Jan. 20.
“I looked at my email, then I got the shock of my life,” Brotman said. “I felt like Muhammad Ali had hit me in the stomach.”
Brotman, who has been the official voice for every presidential inauguration for the last 60 years, according to CNN, told local news station WJLA that he had already started preparing for Trump’s inauguration parade and that he was “heartbroken” and “destroyed” by the news.
“I’m disappointed,” Brotman also told The Washington Post. “I know I can do it. I know that I’ve done it many many times. They ask me every time and it’s such an honor.”
The Trump team has announced as Brotman’s replacement 58-year-old Steve Ray, a Washington-based freelance announcer and audio engineer.
Trump transition spokesman Boris Epshteyn said Brotman, who also previously served as the voice of the Washington Senators baseball team, will be honored as “announcer chairman emeritus” at the inauguration — a role Brotman told WJLA he has yet to accept.
“Since 1957, millions of Americans and countless entertainers have come to recognize Charlie Brotman as the voice of the inaugural parade,” Epshteyn said in a statement. “The Presidential Inaugural Committee will be proud to honor Charlie as Announcer Chairman Emeritus on January 20. We are thrilled for Steve Ray to be introducing a new generation of Americans to the grand traditions of the inaugural parade.”
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Ray told The Washington Post of following in Brotman’s footsteps, “All of us think of Charlie as as much of the Washington landscape as any building. I’m on top of the world. From my point of view, I am not filling his shoes, I’m not taking his place, I just happen to be the guy who’s next.”
While Brotman told WJLA he hasn’t decided whether he’ll attend the parade as “announcer chairman emeritus,” he said he’s feeling better after having some time to process the news.
“I want [Ray] to do good,” he said. “As opposed to, boy, I hope he fouls up so they say, ‘We want Charlie back.’ No. I don’t want that at all. I’m saying, ‘You know what? Good luck, young man. I hope you do spectacular.’ ”
He added of his own long career as inaugural parade announcer, “And I’m thinking – you know what, Charlie Brotman? You are one lucky son of a gun!”