On November 3rd, 1998, pro-wrestling star Jesse "The Body" Ventura was elected governor of Minnesota State with 37% of the popular vote. Some other entertainers have successfully gone into politics such as former Mayor Clint Eastwood, Senator Fred Thompson, Congressman Sonny Bono, and President Ronald Reagan. These victories were not very surprising because they all belonged to a major political party and the public was already fond of them. Jesse Ventura is not a beloved classic actor or recording artist, but a six-foot-four 250-pound foul-mouthed ex pro-wrestler. He seemed to come out of nowhere to successfully run a campaign with only $600,000 compared to his opponents' combined $13 million. His campaign was seen as a joke. He made talk-show host David Letterman's comedy bit several times throughout the campaign including on election night (1). Though political analysts were stunned by his victory, Ventura was not. He says people voted for him because they truly bel!.
ieve him when he says, "I stand for the common man because I am him." (2).
Jesse Ventura was not born successful; he wasn't even born "Jesse Ventura", but Jim Janos. He was raised in a middle class, blue-collar family. Before his well-known success as a pro-wrestler, Ventura was in the Navy SEALs, worked random, blue-collar jobs, and dropped out of Community College. Ventura set out on his campaign by showing voters he was new and original, not just another "cookie-cutter" cutout (3) of all the other politicians. At debates, Ventura wore a Minnesota Timberwolves jacket to clash with his opponents' black-tie suits. His TV commercials were outlandish. The most popular ad was a Ventura's wrestling action-figure beating up on another character named "Special Interest Man" (4). "I don't want your stupid money!" the wrestling figure would growl (5). Ventura appealed to many people by speaking his the truth. For example, when Ventura visited the University of Minnesota, he told the students he feels the government should not be responsible for higher education and would not support any government grants for education.