The 2,000 runners at the “Challenge for Peace” who race through Rio de Janeiro often run in costume. Paulo Henrique dos Santos had a simple idea for his: douse himself in green paint and race as the Incredible Hulk.
So the 35-year-old dos Santos, a swimming pool cleaner by day and a funk singer by night, bought himself two buckets of body paint for $9 each.
At least, that’s what he thought.
After running Sunday’s race, dos Santos hopped in the shower and found, to his surprise, that the paint wouldn’t come off.
It turned out that what he really bought was an industrial paint commonly used for painting ballistic missiles and nuclear submarines, according to the London daily, The Sun.
“I wanted the same paint I used last year, when I also dressed as the Hulk for the race,” dos Santos told Brazil’s O Globo. “But they didn’t have the brand and the salesman offered me this other one. I didn’t see the problem.”
To remove the paint, dos Santos bathed himself 25 times, using progressively more aggressive cleaning agents: soap, shampoo, detergent and alcohol. His girlfriend and his neighbors helped scrub him with sponges and a toilet brush.
“I’m never going to paint myself again,” said a traumatized dos Santos, who worried the paint might ruin his chances of finding work or make him sick if he couldn’t get it off.
If what he wanted was attention, the stunt did the trick. Now known in Brazil as the “Hulk of Vila Cruzeiro,” the Rio favela where he lives, dos Santos’ body paint mishap made him a local celebrity and earned him international headlines.
“I had people all over me,” dos Santos told Brazil’s O Globlo. “Even my kids, who don’t live with me, called to comment.”
Even with the paint off, he may stay in the news for a while. Dos Santos plans to sue the paint company and the store that sold it to him, saying he told them what he wanted to use it for and tested it on his arm in front of them.