Jay Leno helped Rep. Ed Pastor retire from Congress

Last month Jay Leno exited the “Tonight Show” after 22 years in the hot seat. Unbeknownst to the television great, his retirement also nudged long-serving congressman Ed Pastor to walk away.

Arizona’s first Hispanic member of Congress, surprisingly announced late last month that he would not seek re-election after 23 years on Capitol Hill, and later told The Arizona Republic that Leno had a little something to do with the unexpected decision. Apparently, it was watching Leno’s final appearance on his late-night NBC show that “crystallized” the Democrat's choice to move on.

Leno told us he was quite impressed by his own political influence.

“Anytime you can get a congressman to retire its fine with me,” he enthused to FOX411 at the TV Academy Hall of Fame induction dinner. “I would have left five years ago!”

but seriously folks, Leno said the key is to walk away while you're still on top.

“You don’t go into show business thinking you’ll be a huge failure, but you go day-by-day,” Leno added. “All the money you have is in your pockets. I thought I would do it until I had to get a real job… I just never had to get a real job.”

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Hollie McKay has been a staff reporter since 2007. She has reported extensively from the Middle East on the rise and fall of terrorist groups such as ISIS in Iraq. Follow her on twitter at @holliesmckay