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Before Mike “The Situation” Sorrentino became a reality TV star, he modeled. Find out why the Jersey Shore celebrity’s career as an underwear model didn’t go further than JCPenney catalogs, plus details about the career path he almost took before modeling. 

Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino smiles for the camera on Jay Leno's talk show
Mike Sorrentino | Stacie McChesney/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

‘The Situation’ was almost in the Navy 

Mike and his wife Lauren spoke about the early days of their relationship in the “What’s Your Endgame?” episode of their podcast Here’s the Sitch With Mike and Laurens. Part of that story involves Mike’s first time in rehab in “2007 or 2008.” 

Mike moved back in with his father when he got out of rehab. “He told me I was too wild for pretty much anybody and that the only person that could straighten me out was Uncle Sam,” Mike explained. At his dad’s insistence, Mike took the ASVAB test for the United States military and scored a 67. 

“I was good enough to get into the Navy,” Mike explained. Unsure if the military was the right path, Mike asked his dad for a week to consider the decision. “In that week period … I said, ‘I’m going to try to be a fitness model.'” 

Two days later, Mike got a contract. “For me, it was a sign I was going in the right direction.” 

Mike got his nickname because of his modeling gigs 

In the “Do You Love Yourself?” episode of his podcast, Mike goes into more detail about his days as a model. “That was when I was on the come-up,” Mike said.

The day he was signed to model underwear for JCPenney, Mike went to a nightclub to celebrate. “I was hype as hell for that at that time period, so I went to the club …,” he explained. “I was walking around probably with no shirt on and a couple walked by me and the female said, ‘Oh my God honey look at that!’ and she pointed at my abs. She was like, ‘Oh my God, that’s a situation!'” The name stuck.

Mike Sorrentino stopped getting modeling gigs because he wouldn’t ‘go the extra mile’

“After a couple months … I wasn’t getting [bookings],” Mike continued explaining on the podcast. “A lot of times in that industry, you gotta grease the wheels, you know what I’m saying? I was not greasing the wheels and [unwilling] to grease the wheels either, if you get what I’m throwing out there.” 

As Mike explained, the “wheels that needed to be greased” were the photographers and casting agents. “I was not willing to go the extra mile and start giving out blow jobs.” At the time, Mike was happy just to have an agent and attending “go-sees” instead of drug dealing. Then, the opportunity to be on Jersey Shore came along.

Mike Sorrentino’s brief modeling career helped him get cast on ‘Jersey Shore’ 

Within three months of his modeling career, Mike discovered Jersey Shore — which was initially a competition series called America’s Biggest Guido — was casting. Ironically, Mike’s background in modeling and his over-the-top confidence helped him get cast on the show. 

'Jersey Shore' star Mike 'The Situation' Sorrentino showing off his model physique at the 2010 MTV Movie Awards
Mike ‘The Situation’ Sorrentino | Jason Merritt/Getty Images

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Producer SallyAnn Salsano remembers Mike walking into the audition room and telling them: “Let me take my shirt off” (via Vulture). “I have never in my life met someone that felt more comfortable upon not knowing you,” she added. “Having cast a million of these, we had never really seen anyone do that before.” 

Thanks to Mike’s look and overall attitude, he was the first person to be cast for Jersey Shore. Today, Mike might not be taking his shirt off as much, but he’s still a beloved fixture in the spinoff series Jersey Shore: Family Vacation