President Barack Obama compared his low bowling score to the Special Olympics during an appearance on The Tonight Show on Thursday. It was an attempt at a lighthearted joke, but Obama knew he’d blundered even before the remark hit the airwaves.

Obama told Jay Leno that he bowled a 129. He followed up with, “It’s like — it was like Special Olympics, or something.”

He quickly realized his mistake.

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“The president made an off-hand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics,” White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton told reporters. “He thinks the Special Olympics is a wonderful program that gives an opportunity for people with disabilities from around the world.”

Obama called Special Olympics chairman Tim Shriver from Air Force One to apologize before the show aired.

“He expressed that he did not intend to humiliate this population, certainly didn’t want to embarrass or give anybody any more reason for pain or just suffering I would say,” Shriver said on Good Morning America. “He was very sincere, expressed an interest and an openness in being more engaged in the movement and said he was a fan of the movement and I think importantly he said he was ready to have some of our athletes over to the White House to bowl or play basketball or help him improve his score.”

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