The mystery has been solved, check the bottom of the page for an update.
Ed Sheeran set off a firestorm of criticism and speculation amongst his fans when he shared photos of a massive lion tattoo on his chest no more than two weeks ago. Impassioned fans went crazy over the ink; some of them liked the work while the majority of fans panned it. The lion became the impetus to place Sheeran on many "worst celebrity tattoo lists" and the pop icon even took to Twitter to defend the tattoo. And now, two weeks late, poof! The tattoo has vanished into thin air.
Early on Wednesday Sheeran posted a picture to his Instagram of a completely bare and un-tattooed chest with the caption, "Was only joking about the lion." Before we jump to conclusions and consider the whole thing a well played out hoax, let's take a second to analyze the photo above. There are more than a few things about it that seem to scream out that the picture is not of Sheeran.
First, what's with the paper towels or napkins or whatever covering parts of the chest? Perhaps that's some sort of frilly pirate shirt that is way too cool for me to understand, but that is besides the point. Which is—what is being covered up? Considering that he has a ton of other tattoos, especially on his arms and shoulders, Sheeran could be identified by those if the picture was simply taken with a shirt off.
Secondly, that beard is far more impressive than Sheeran's. Look at it! There's some growth there. While it's still ginger colored, the beard appears to be a bit heftier than the beard Sheeran has in the picture posted a few minutes before. And while I've seen some people very skilled at growing facial hair this would set a world record.
Lastly, and most importantly, WHERE'S HIS FACE? The number one tip off that the hoax is a hoax is the absence of Sheeran's famous mug in the picture. You put your face up in that shot and everyone believes that the lion tattoo never was. Without the face and we know that Sheeran is trying to pull one over on us. Not so fast, my friend, and frankly, we don't appreciate your ruse.
So, in summation, Ed Sheeran probably still has that lion tattoo.
UPDATE: We were correct! At least about the tattoo, that is. In an Instagram post made this afternoon Sheeran reveals that he was just pranking everybody. He had to have the tattoo covered with makeup (this explains the weird napkin/paper towel "shirt" he was wearing) for a television show. So we were right about the tattoo, the lion lives! But, if we're going to crow about being right we have to own up to it when we were wrong. Apparently Mr. Sheeran has otherworldly beard growing ability. That's his beard in the photo. So, mad props to your beard, Ed.