As he descended the steps outside the first base gate at Nationals Park on Tuesday, John Loughney saw a TV reporter preparing to interview elated fans and couldn’t resist the camera.

“I thought I was going to be in the background, being the obnoxious guy that you see on the news,” Loughney, a 38-year-old local actor, said in a phone interview Thursday. “All of a sudden, the lights popped on, and we were live."

NBC Washington’s Tommy McFly turned to Loughney, who was dancing among a group of red-clad revelers after the Nationals clinched the city’s first World Series berth since 1933, and asked how long he had been a fan. Loughney considered the question for a moment and leaned into the microphone.

“Since today,” he replied, before breaking into laughter.

Loughney wasn’t playing a part. He had attended a few Nationals games since moving to the District in 2004 but mostly to socialize. None of them were nearly as exciting as Tuesday’s NLCS-clinching win, which marked the first time he had sat through a game in its entirety.

“The energy was like nothing I’ve ever experienced in D.C.," said Loughney, who grew up outside Scranton, Pa., and was never a sports fan. “It was infectious, so everyone there was just going absolutely insane. I haven’t seen D.C. like that. It can be a little staunch. It can be a little uptight. It was nice to see people be able to let loose.

Loughney went to the game with his boyfriend, who is a huge Nationals fan, and two other friends.

“We had tickets 15 rows behind home base, with drink and food included,” Loughney said. “I had to ask a bunch of times: Why is he walking? What are the rules? I didn’t understand everything.”

But he was having a great time, so in the seventh inning, when his boyfriend left the game to check on his sick dog, Loughney stuck around. If not for both of those decisions, he wouldn’t have become the star of a viral video clip that has been viewed 1.2 million times on Twitter as of Friday morning.

“There’s no way I would’ve been on camera if he had stayed,” said Loughney, whose professional accomplishments include a Helen Hayes Award nomination for his performance in the Keegan Theatre’s production of “The Full Monty.” “He would’ve ripped me away because he knows I would’ve embarrassed myself. I was having the time of my life.”

Two minutes after Loughney’s brief interview with McFly, a friend messaged Loughney on Facebook to say that he had watched it live and predicted it would go viral. Sure enough, by the time Loughney arrived at his Navy Yard residence, a HuffPost reporter had tweeted the clip, and it began making the rounds.

Loughney’s truthful, two-word answer to McFly’s question was featured on Wednesday’s episode of ESPN’s “Around the Horn.”

“We should all strive to be as honest as this dude,” Golf Digest opined.

“I’ve watched it seven times and it brings me pure joy,” NBC News chief White House correspondent Hallie Jackson tweeted.

Others inanely and predictably suggested the clip reflected poorly on D.C. and the Nationals’ fan base, as if there aren’t people who have been following the team since it arrived in 2005 and everyone who didn’t — or who adopted the Nationals after moving to the District — is somehow less of a fan. NBC News analyst Howard Fineman tweeted the video of Loughney’s interview and proclaimed, “This, ladies and gentlemen, is why America hates its own capital.”

“I was like, ‘Oh, my God, what did I do?’ ” Loughney said. “I was honestly just having a good night, and that was the first thing that came out of my mouth. People are very passionate about their Nats and sports in general, so I’ve heard a lot but whatever. It didn’t matter when you were there in the stadium.”

Loughney said his two sports-loving brothers are getting a kick out of his viral fame. A friend suggested he sell “Since Today” T-shirts outside Nationals Park during the World Series. Yes, Loughney is aware the Nationals are in the World Series, and he said he will “100 percent” follow the rest of their playoff run.

“At this point, why wouldn’t I?” he said. “It’s very exciting to be such a small part of it. I think [the video] has actually made a lot of people laugh. It was a culmination of a great night, and for the most part, Nats fans are overwhelmingly nice.”

For a Nationals newbie, Loughney is a quick study. He already can name three players. Well, 2½.

“There’s Howie … Kendrick,” Loughney said with a laugh. “I heard he did something big in some game, so I heard his name a lot. I don’t know what he did. Then there was Scherzer. And Trea something. … But if there’s anything I’ve learned about being a true Nats fan, it’s that you’re supposed to say, ‘Bryce who?’ I’ve been a fan for two days, and that much I’ve learned.”

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