"It sounds gruesome, but I don't regret biting a man's finger off when he stuck it in my mouth and tried to tear my jaw off," McKinney told WKRN.
McKinney said he was wearing a hoodie with a Confederate symbol and the veteran, who is black, took offense and cursed at him.
The verbal fight soon turned physical, McKinney told the television station.
"My first thought, maybe he has a gun in there, and so I did everything I could to make sure he couldn't get to anything inside his truck," McKinney told WKRN. "As far as the confrontation, I guess you would say, maybe I started that.
“We were fighting. I didn't have time to put his finger in my mouth and eat it. I'm not a cannibal or anything like that.”
Denise Knowles, the daughter of the victim, said she believes the attack was racially motivated.
Knowles told WKRN."He is 26. My dad is 71. His tags are Kentucky, my dad is born and raised in Charlotte, Tennessee," Knowles told WKRN. "What else do they have in common? What else could it be beside hate?
“He bit the tip of my father's finger off. That is not alcohol. That is out of control rage."
McKinney denied the fight was grounds for a hate crime.
"Absolutely not. I am not affiliated with anything like that." he told WKRN. "It is not a hate crime."