Jesse Ventura

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Ventura in the Minnesota House of Representatives Chamber in 2000 Jesse Ventura 2000.jpg
Ventura in the Minnesota House of Representatives Chamber in 2000
Ventura orating at the Rally for the Republic in 2008 Jesse Ventura 2827650892 Agent Cody Banks Flickr.jpg
Ventura orating at the Rally for the Republic in 2008

Ventura ran for governor of Minnesota in 1998 as the Reform Party of Minnesota nominee (he later joined the Independence Party of Minnesota when the Reform Party broke from its association with the Reform Party of the United States of America). His campaign consisted of a combination of aggressive grassroots events organized in part by his campaign manager Doug Friedline and original television spots, designed by quirky adman Bill Hillsman, using the phrase "Don't vote for politics as usual." He spent considerably less than his opponents (about $300,000) and was a pioneer in his using the Internet as a medium of reaching out to voters in a political campaign. [57]

He won the election in November 1998, narrowly and unexpectedly defeating the major-party candidates, Republican St. Paul mayor Norm Coleman and Democratic-Farmer-Labor Attorney General Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III. During his victory speech, Ventura famously declared, "We shocked the world!" [58] After his election, bumper stickers and T-shirts bearing the slogan "My governor can beat up your governor" appeared in Minnesota. The nickname "Jesse 'The Mind'" (from a last-minute Hillsman ad featuring Ventura posing as Rodin's Thinker) began to resurface sarcastically in reference to his often controversial remarks. Ventura's old stage name "Jesse 'The Body'" (sometimes adapted to "Jesse 'The Governing Body'") also continued to appear with some regularity.[ citation needed ]

After a trade mission to China in 2002, Ventura announced that he would not run for a second term, saying that he no longer felt dedicated enough to his job and accusing the media of hounding him and his family for personal behavior and beliefs while neglecting coverage of important policy issues. [59] He later told a Boston Globe reporter that he would have run for a second term if he had been single, citing the media's effect on his family life. [60]

Ventura sparked media criticism when, nearing the end of his term, he suggested that he might resign from office early to allow his lieutenant governor, Mae Schunk, an opportunity to serve as governor. He further said that he wanted her to be the state's first female governor and have her portrait painted and hung in the Capitol along with the other governors'. Ventura quickly retreated from the comments, saying he was just floating an idea. [61]

Political positions as governor

Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura (center) testifies on China's participation in the WTO in March 2000 Jesse Ventura at the hearing on the future of WTO.jpg
Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura (center) testifies on China's participation in the WTO in March 2000
Ventura greeting President George W. Bush and Norm Coleman in 2002 Jesse Ventura welcomes George W. Bush and Norm Coleman.jpg
Ventura greeting President George W. Bush and Norm Coleman in 2002

In political debates, Ventura often admitted that he had not formed an opinion on certain policy questions. He often called himself as "fiscally conservative and socially liberal." [62] He selected teacher Mae Schunk as his running mate. [63]

Lacking a party base in the Minnesota House of Representatives and Senate, Ventura's policy ambitions had little chance of being introduced as bills. He vetoed 45 bills in his first year, only three of which were overridden. The reputation for having his vetoes overridden comes from his fourth and final year, when six of his nine vetoes were overturned. [64] Nevertheless, Ventura succeeded with some of his initiatives. One of the most notable was the rebate on sales tax; each year of his administration, Minnesotans received a tax-free check in the late summer. [65] The state was running a budget surplus at the time, and Ventura believed the money should be returned to the public.[ citation needed ]

Later, Ventura came to support a unicameral (one-house) legislature, property tax reform, gay rights, medical marijuana, and abortion rights. While funding public school education generously, he opposed the teachers' union, and did not have a high regard for public funding of higher education institutions. [66]

In an interview on The Howard Stern Show, he reaffirmed his support of gay rights, including marriage and military service, humorously stating he would have gladly served alongside homosexuals when he was in the Navy as they would have provided less competition for women. [67] Later, on the subject of a 2012 referendum on amending the Minnesota Constitution to limit marriage to male-female couples, Ventura said, "I certainly hope that people don't amend our constitution to stop gay marriage because, number one, the constitution is there to protect people, not oppress them", and related a story from his wrestling days of a friend who was denied hospital visitation to his same-sex partner. [68]

During the first part of his administration, Ventura strongly advocated for land-use reform and substantial mass transit improvements, such as light rail. [69]

During another trade mission to Cuba in the summer of 2002, he denounced the United States embargo against Cuba, saying the embargo affected the Cuban public more than it did its government. [70]

Ventura, who ran on a Reform Party ticket and advocated for a greater role for third parties in American politics, is highly critical of both Democrats and Republicans. He has called both parties "monsters that are out of control", concerned only with "their own agendas and their pork." [71]

In his book Independent Nation, political analyst John Avlon describes Ventura as a radical centrist thinker and activist. [72]

Wellstone memorial

Ventura greatly disapproved of some of the actions that took place at the 2002 memorial for Senator Paul Wellstone, his family, and others who died in a plane crash on October 25, 2002. Ventura said, "I feel used. I feel violated and duped over the fact that the memorial ceremony turned into a political rally". [73] [74] He left halfway through the controversial speech made by Wellstone's best friend, Rick Kahn. Ventura had initially planned to appoint a Democrat to Wellstone's seat, [75] but instead appointed Dean Barkley to represent Minnesota in the Senate until Wellstone's term expired in January 2003. Barkley was succeeded by Norm Coleman, who won the seat against Walter Mondale, who replaced Wellstone as the Democratic nominee a few days before the election. [76]

Criticisms of tenure as governor

After the legislature refused to increase spending for security, Ventura attracted criticism when he decided not to live in the governor's mansion during his tenure, choosing instead to shut it down and stay at his home in Maple Grove. [77]

In 1999, a group of disgruntled citizens petitioned to recall Governor Ventura, alleging, among other things, that "the use of state security personnel to protect the governor on a book promotion tour constituted illegal use of state property for personal gain." The proposed petition was dismissed by order of the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Minnesota. [78] Under Minnesota law, the Chief Justice must review recall petitions for legal sufficiency, and, upon such review, the Chief Justice determined that it did not allege the commission of any act that violated Minnesota law. Ventura sought attorney's fees as a sanction for the filing of a frivolous petition for recall, but that request was denied on the ground that there was no statutory authority for such an award. [79]

Ventura was also criticized for mishandling the Minnesota state budget, with Minnesota state economist Tom Stinson noting that the statewide capital gain fell from $9 billion to $4 billion between 2000 and 2001. [10] In 2002, Ventura's poor handling of the Minnesota state budget was also exploited at the national level by CNN journalist Matthew Cooper. [80] When Ventura left office in 2003, Minnesota had a $4.2 billion budget deficit, compared to the $3 billion budget surplus when Ventura took office in 1999. [10]

In November 2011, Ventura held a press conference in relation to a lawsuit he had filed against the Transportation Security Administration. During the press conference, he said he would "never stand for a national anthem again. I will turn my back and raise a fist the same way Tommy Smith and John Carlos did in the '68 Olympics. Jesse Ventura will do that today." [81]

During his tenure as governor, Ventura drew frequent fire from the Twin Cities press. He called reporters "media jackals," a term that even appeared on the press passes required to enter the his press area. [82] Shortly after Ventura's election as governor, author and humorist Garrison Keillor wrote a satirical book about him, Me: Jimmy (Big Boy) Valente, depicting a self-aggrandizing former "Navy W.A.L.R.U.S. (Water Air Land Rising Up Suddenly)" turned professional wrestler turned politician. Ventura initially responded angrily to the satire, but later said Keillor "makes Minnesota proud". [83] During his term, Ventura appeared on the Late Show with David Letterman , in which he responded controversially to the following question: "So which is the better city of the Twin Cities, Minneapolis or St. Paul?". Ventura responded, "Minneapolis. Those streets in St. Paul must have been designed by drunken Irishmen". He later apologized for the remark, saying it was not intended to be taken seriously. [84]

Consideration of bids for other political offices

Ventura in 2007 Jesse Ventura in Los Angeles, July 2007 cropped.jpg
Ventura in 2007

While Ventura has not held public office since the end of his term as governor in 2003, he has remained politically active and occasionally hinted at running for political office. In an April 7, 2008, interview on CNN's The Situation Room , Ventura said he was considering entering the race for the United States Senate seat then held by Norm Coleman, his Republican opponent in the 1998 gubernatorial race. A Twin Cities station Fox 9 poll put him at 24%, behind Democratic candidate Al Franken at 32% and Coleman at 39% in a hypothetical three-way race. On Larry King Live on July 14, 2008, Ventura said he would not run, partly out of concern for his family's privacy. [85] Franken won the election by a very narrow margin. [86]

In his 1999 autobiography I Ain't Got Time to Bleed, Ventura suggested that he did not plan to run for president of the United States but did not rule it out. [71] In 2003, he expressed interest in running for president while accepting an award from the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa. [87] He spoke at Republican presidential candidate Ron Paul's "Rally for the Republic", organized by the Campaign for Liberty, on September 2, 2008, and implied a possible future run for president. At the end of his speech, Ventura announced if he saw that the public was willing to see a change in the direction of the country, then "in 2012 we'll give them a race they'll never forget!" In 2011, Ventura expressed interest in running with Ron Paul in the 2012 presidential election if Paul would run as an independent. [88] On November 4, 2011, Ventura said at a press conference about the dismissal of his court case against the Transportation Security Administration for what he claimed were illegal searches of air travelers that he was "thinking about" running for president. [89] [90] There were reports that the Libertarian Party officials had tried to persuade Ventura to run for president on a Libertarian ticket, but party chairman Mark Hinkle said, "Jesse is more interested in 2016 than he is in 2012. But I think he's serious. If Ron Paul ran as a Libertarian, I think he definitely would be interested in running as a vice presidential candidate. He's thinking, 'If I run as the vice presidential candidate under Ron Paul in 2012, I could run as a presidential candidate in 2016'." [91]

David Gewirtz of ZDNet wrote in a November 2011 article that he thought Ventura could win if he declared his intention to run at that point and ran a serious campaign, but that it would be a long shot. [92] In late 2015, Ventura publicly flirted with the idea of running for president in 2016 as a Libertarian but allowed his self-imposed deadline of May 1 to pass. [93] He also expressed an openness to be either Donald Trump's running mate or Bernie Sanders's running mate in 2016. [94] Ventura tried to officially endorse Sanders but his endorsement was rejected. [95] Ventura then endorsed former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson, the Libertarian nominee, saying, "Johnson is a very viable alternative" and "This is the year for a third-party candidate to rise if there ever was one." [96] But in the general election he voted for Jill Stein, the Green Party nominee. [97]

Unauthorized 2020 presidential campaign

Ventura expressed interest in running for president again in 2020, but said he would do so only under the Green Party banner. [98] "The [Green Party] has shown some interest. I haven't made a decision yet because it's a long time off. If I do do it, Trump will not have a chance. For one, Trump knows wrestling. He participated in two WrestleManias. He knows he can never out-talk a wrestler, and he knows I'm the greatest talker wrestling's ever had." [99]

On April 27, 2020, Ventura submitted a letter of interest to the Green Party Presidential Support Committee, the first step to seeking the Green Party's presidential nomination. [13] [100] In May, he announced that he would not run for health reasons, explaining that he would lose his employer-provided health insurance. [101]

Ventura said he would write in his own name in the presidential election, but would support Green candidates in down-ballot races. He said he "refuse[s] to vote for 'the lesser of two evils' because in the end, that's still choosing evil." [102] Ventura received seven presidential delegate votes at the 2020 Green National Convention, having been awarded them through write-in votes in the 2020 Green primaries. Despite the national Green Party nominating Howie Hawkins for president and Angela Nicole Walker for vice president, the Green Party of Alaska nominated Ventura and former representative Cynthia McKinney without Ventura's consent. Ventura and McKinney received 0.7% of the Alaska popular vote. [103]

Political views

Bush Administration and torture

In a May 11, 2009, interview with Larry King, Ventura twice said that George W. Bush was the worst president of his lifetime, adding "President Obama inherited something I wouldn't wish on my worst enemy. You know? Two wars, an economy that's borderline depression." [104] On the issue of waterboarding, Ventura added:

I will criticize President Obama on this level: it's a good thing I'm not president because I would prosecute every person that was involved in that torture. I would prosecute the people that did it. I would prosecute the people that ordered it. Because torture is against the law. [King: And you were a Navy SEAL] That's right and I was SERE school, Survival Escape Resistance Evasion [sic]. It was a required school you had to go to prior to going into the combat zone, which in my era was Vietnam. All of us had to go there. We were all in essence, every one of us was waterboarded. It is torture. [King: What was it like?] It's drowning. It gives you the complete sensation that you are drowning. It's no good, because you—I'll put it to you this way, you give me a water board, Dick Cheney and one hour, and I'll have him confess to the Sharon Tate murders. ... If it's done wrong, you certainly could drown. You could swallow your tongue. [It] could do a whole bunch of stuff to you. If it's done wrong or—it's torture, Larry. It's torture. [104]

Questions about 9/11

In April and May 2008, in several radio interviews for his new book Don't Start the Revolution Without Me, Ventura expressed concern about what he called unanswered questions about 9/11. [105] His remarks about the possibility that the World Trade Center was demolished with explosives were repeated in newspaper and television stories after some of the interviews. [106]

On May 18, 2009, when asked by Sean Hannity of Fox News how George W. Bush could have avoided the September 11 attacks, Ventura answered, "And there it is again—you pay attention to memos on August 6th that tell you exactly what bin Laden's gonna do." [107]

On April 9, 2011, when Piers Morgan of CNN asked Ventura for his official view of the events of 9/11, Ventura said, "My theory of 9/11 is that we certainly—at the best we knew it was going to happen. They allowed it to happen to further their agenda in the Middle East and go to these wars." [108]

Other endeavors

Post-gubernatorial life

Ventura was succeeded in office on January 6, 2003, by Republican Tim Pawlenty.

In October 2003 he began a weekly MSNBC show, Jesse Ventura's America; the show was canceled after a couple of months. Ventura has alleged it was canceled because he opposed the Iraq War. MSNBC honored the balance of his three-year contract, legally preventing him from doing any other TV or news shows. [109]

On October 22, 2004, with Ventura by his side, former Maine Governor Angus King endorsed John Kerry for president at the Minnesota state capitol building. Ventura did not speak at the press conference. When prodded for a statement, King responded, "He plans to vote for John Kerry, but he doesn't want to make a statement and subject himself to the tender mercies of the Minnesota press". [110] In the 2012 Senate elections, Ventura endorsed King in his campaign for the open Senate seat in Maine, which King won. [111]

In November 2004, an advertisement began airing in California featuring Ventura, in which he voiced his opposition to then-Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger's policies regarding Native American casinos. [112] Ventura served as an advisory board member for a group called Operation Truth, a nonprofit organization set up "to give voice to troops who served in Iraq." "The current use of the National Guard is wrong....These are men who did not sign up to go occupy foreign nations". [113]

In August 2005, Ventura became the spokesperson for BetUS, an online sportsbook. [114]

On December 29, 2011, Ventura announced his support for Ron Paul on The Alex Jones Show in the 2012 presidential election as "the only anti-war candidate." Like Paul, Ventura is known for supporting a less interventionist foreign policy. [115] But after Mitt Romney became the presumptive Republican nominee in May 2012, Ventura gave his support to Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson on June 12, 2012, whom Ventura argued was the choice for voters who "really want to rebel." [116]

In September 2012, Ventura and his wife appeared in an advertisement calling for voters to reject a referendum to be held in Minnesota during the November elections that amend the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. The referendum was defeated. [117] [118]


Ventura at a book signing in 2016 JesseVentura2.jpg
Ventura at a book signing in 2016

Ventura wrote several other books after leaving office. On April 1, 2008, his Don't Start the Revolution Without Me was released. In it, Ventura describes a hypothetical campaign in which he is an independent candidate for president of the United States in 2008. In an interview with the Associated Press at the time of the book's release, Ventura denied any plans for a presidential bid, saying that the scenario was only imaginary and not indicative of a "secret plan to run". [119] On, Ventura's agent, Steve Schwartz, said of the book, "[Ventura is revealing] why he left politics and discussing the disastrous war in Iraq, why he sees our two-party system as corrupt, and what Fidel Castro told him about who was really behind the assassination of President Kennedy." [120]

Ventura also wrote DemoCRIPS and ReBLOODlicans: No More Gangs in Government, which was released on June 11, 2012. The book expresses Ventura's opposition to the two-party system and calls for political parties to be abolished. [121]

On September 6, 2016, Jesse Ventura's Marijuana Manifesto was released, making the case for the legalization of cannabis and detailing the various special interests that benefit from keeping it illegal. [122]

Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura

In December 2009, Ventura hosted TruTV's new show Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura . [123] "Ventura will hunt down answers, plunging viewers into a world of secret meetings, midnight surveillance, shifty characters and dark forces," truTV said in a statement. On the program, Ventura traveled the country, investigating cases and getting input from believers and skeptics before passing judgment on a theory's validity. [124] According to TruTV, the first episode drew 1.6 million viewers, a record for a new series on the network. [125]

The first season was followed by a second in 2010 and a third in 2012. [126] After three seasons, the show was discontinued in 2013, [127] but as of 2017 it is still shown worldwide on satellite TV.[ citation needed ]

We The People podcast

On July 31, 2014, Ventura launched a weekly podcast, We The People, distributed by Adam Carolla's "Carolla Digital", [128] [129] [130] which ran until March 4, 2015. [131] [132] Guests included Larry King, [133] Bill Goldberg, Chris Jericho, Roddy Piper, Donald Trump, Mark Dice, and leading members of the 9/11 Truth movement. [134]


Bill Salisbury, an attorney in San Diego and a former Navy SEAL officer, has accused Ventura of "pretending" to be a SEAL. He wrote that Ventura blurred an important distinction by claiming to be a SEAL when he was actually a frogman with the UDT. Compared to SEAL teams, UDTs saw less combat and took fewer casualties. [28] [135]

Salisbury described Ventura's Navy training thus:

[Ventura] took a screening test at boot camp to qualify for...Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) training...Those who completed BUD/S, when [Ventura] was in training, were sent to either a SEAL or an underwater demolition team. Graduation did not, however, authorize the trainee to call himself a SEAL or a UDT frogman. He had to first successfully complete a six-month probationary period in the Teams. [136]

Ventura underwent BUD/S training and was assigned to a UDT team. He received the NEC 5321/22 UDT designation given after a six-month probationary period completed with Underwater Demolition Team 12. He was never granted the Navy Enlisted Classification (NEC) 5326 Combatant Swimmer (SEAL) designation, which requires a six-month probationary period with SEAL TEAM ONE or TWO. In 1983, eight years after Ventura left the Navy, the UDTs were disbanded and those operators were retrained and retasked as SEALs.[ citation needed ]

Responding to the controversy, Ventura's office confirmed that he was a member of the UDT. His spokesman said that Ventura has never tried to convince people otherwise. [28] Ventura said, "Today we refer to all of us as SEALs. That's all it is." He dismissed the accusations of lying about being a SEAL as "much ado about nothing". [135]

Former Navy SEAL Brandon Webb, the editor of the website, wrote in a column on the site, "Jesse Ventura graduated with Basic Underwater Demolition Class 58 and, like it or not, he earned his status." He disagreed with the argument that Ventura was a UDT and not a SEAL, saying "try telling that to a WWII UDT veteran who swam ashore before the landing craft on D-Day." "The UDTs and SEALs are essentially one and the same. It's why the UDT is still part of the training acronym BUD/S", Webb wrote. [137]

Lawsuit against the TSA

In January 2011, Ventura filed a lawsuit against the Transportation Security Administration, seeking a declaration that the agency's new controversial pat-down policy violated citizens' Fourth Amendment rights and an injunction to bar the TSA from subjecting him to the pat-down procedures. Ventura received a titanium hip replacement in 2008 that sets off metal detectors at airport security checkpoints. [138]

The U.S. district court dismissed the suit for lack of jurisdiction in November 2011, ruling that "challenges to TSA orders, policies and procedures" must be brought only in the U.S. courts of appeals. [139] After the court's ruling, Ventura held a press conference in which he called the federal judges cowards; said he no longer felt patriotic and would henceforth refer to the U.S. as the "Fascist States of America"; said he would never take commercial flights again; said he would seek dual citizenship in Mexico; and said he would "never stand for a national anthem again" and would instead raise a fist. [140]

Chris Kyle dispute

During an interview on Opie and Anthony in January 2012 to promote his book American Sniper , former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle said he had punched Ventura in 2006 at McP's, a bar in Coronado, California, during a wake for Michael A. Monsoor, a fellow SEAL who had been killed in Iraq. According to Kyle, Ventura was vocally expressing opposition to the War in Iraq. Kyle, who wrote about the alleged incident in his book but did not mention Ventura by name, said he approached Ventura and asked him to tone down his voice because the families of SEAL personnel were present, but that Ventura responded that the SEALs "deserved to lose a few guys." Kyle said he then punched Ventura. [141] [142] Ventura denied the event occurred. [141]


In January 2012, after Kyle declined to retract his statement, Ventura sued Kyle for defamation in federal court. In a motion filed by Kyle's attorney in August 2012 to dismiss two of the suit's three counts, declarations by five former SEALs and the mothers of two others supported Kyle's account. [142] [143] But in a motion filed by Ventura, Bill DeWitt, a close friend of Ventura and former SEAL who was present with him at the bar, suggested that Ventura interacted with a few SEALs but was involved in no confrontation with Kyle and that Kyle's claims were false. DeWitt's wife also said she witnessed no fight between Kyle and Ventura. [144] [145]

In 2013, while the lawsuit was ongoing, Kyle was murdered in an unrelated incident, and Ventura substituted Taya Kyle, Chris Kyle's widow and the executorix of his estate, as the defendant. [146] After a three-week trial in federal court in St. Paul in July 2014, the jury reached an 82 divided verdict in Ventura's favor, and awarded him $1.85 million, $500,000 for defamation and $1,345,477.25 for unjust enrichment. [147] [145] [148] [149] Ventura testified at the trial. [150] [151] On August 2014, U.S. District Judge Richard H. Kyle (no relation to Chris Kyle) upheld the jury's award, finding it "reasonable and supported by a preponderance of the evidence." Attorneys for Kyle's estate said that the defamation damages would be covered by HarperCollins's libel insurance. The unjust enrichment award was not covered by insurance. After the verdict, HarperCollins announced that it would remove the sub-chapter "Punching out Scruff Face" from all future editions of Kyle's book. [152] Kyle's estate moved for either judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. [153] [154] [155] In November 2014, the district court denied the motions. [156] [157]

Kyle's estate appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. [158] [159] Oral argument was held in October 2015, [160] [161] and on June 13, 2016, the appeals court vacated and reversed the unjust-enrichment judgment, and vacated and remanded the defamation judgment for a new trial, holding that "We cannot accept Ventura's unjust-enrichment theory, because it enjoys no legal support under Minnesota law. Ventura's unjust-enrichment claim fails as a matter of law." [162] [163] Ventura sought to appeal the circuit court's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, [164] but in January 2017, the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal. [165]

In December 2014, Ventura sued publisher HarperCollins over the same statement in American Sniper. [166] In December 2017, Ventura and HarperCollins settled the dispute on undisclosed terms, and Ventura dropped his lawsuit against both the publisher and Kyle's estate. [167] [168] [169]

Personal life


On July 18, 1975, three days after his 24th birthday, Ventura married his wife Terry. [20] The couple have two children: a son, Tyrel, [170] who is a film and television director and producer, [171] and a daughter, Jade. [170] With the exception of the first two WrestleManias, Ventura always said hello to "Terry, Tyrel and Jade back in Minneapolis" during his commentary at the annual event. Tyrel also had the honor of inducting his father into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2004, and worked on Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura , including as an investigator in the show's third season.[ citation needed ]

Ventura and his wife split their time between White Bear Lake, Minnesota and Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico. [172] Regarding his life in Mexico, Ventura has said:

I live one hour from pavement and one hour from electricity. I drive down and back every year and it's truly an adventure to live down there where I do, because I'm off the grid. I have electricity but it's all solar. I'm completely solar-powered down there. And it makes you pay more attention. It makes you turn the lights off when you're not using them. [173]


During his wrestling days, Ventura used anabolic steroids. He admitted this after retiring from competition, and went on to make public service announcements and appear in printed ads and on posters warning young people about the potential dangers and potential health risks of abusing steroids. [174]

In 2002, Ventura was hospitalized for a severe blood clot in his lungs, the same kind of injury that ended his wrestling career. [175]


Ventura has said that he was baptized a Lutheran. [176]

In 1999, Ventura said in an NBC News interview that he was baptized a Lutheran but came out as an atheist on The Joe Rogan Experience . [177] In a Playboy interview, Ventura said, "Organized religion is a sham and a crutch for weak-minded people who need strength in numbers. It tells people to go out and stick their noses in other people's business. I live by the golden rule: Treat others as you'd want them to treat you. The religious right wants to tell people how to live." [178] In his 1999 bestselling memoir I Ain't Got Time to Bleed, Ventura responded to the controversy sparked by these remarks by elaborating on his views concerning religion:

I'd like to clarify my comments published in Playboy about religious people being weak-minded. I didn't mean all religious people. I don't have any problem with the vast majority of religious folks. I count myself among them, more or less. But I believe because it makes sense to me, not because I think it can be proven. There are lots of people out there who think they know the truth about God and religion, but does anybody really know for sure? That's why the Founding Fathers built freedom of religious belief into the structure of this nation, so that everybody could make up their minds for themselves. But I do have a problem with the people who think they have some right to try to impose their beliefs on others. I hate what the fundamentalist fanatics are doing to our country. It seems as though, if everybody doesn't accept their version of reality, that somehow invalidates it for them. Everybody must believe the same things they do. That's what I find weak and destructive. [71]

In April 2011, Ventura said on The Howard Stern Show that he is an atheist and that his beliefs could disqualify him for office in the future, saying, "I don't believe you can be an atheist and admit it and get elected in our country." [179] In an October 2010 CNN interview, Ventura stated religion as being the "root of all evil", remarking that "you notice every war is fought over religion." [180]

As governor, Ventura endorsed equal rights for religious minorities, as well as people who do not believe in God, by declaring July 4, 2002, "Indivisible Day". He inadvertently proclaimed October 13–19, 2002 "Christian Heritage Week" in Minnesota. [181]

Championships and accomplishments

Electoral history

Jesse Ventura
Jesse Ventura 1996.jpg
Ventura in 1996
38th Governor of Minnesota
In office
January 4, 1999 January 6, 2003
1990 Brooklyn Park mayoral election [193]
Jesse Ventura, non-partisan12,72863.27%gain
Jim Krautkremer (inc.), non-partisan7,39036.73%loss
1998 Minnesota gubernatorial election
Reform Jesse Ventura 773,713 36.99% n/a
Republican Norm Coleman 717,35034.29%-29.04%
Democratic (DFL) Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III 587,52828.09%-6.02%
Green Ken Pentel7,0340.34%n/a
Turnout 2,091,76660%
Reform gain from Republican Swing
2020 United States presidential election in Alaska [194]
Republican Donald Trump
Mike Pence
189,951 52.83% +1.55%
Democratic Joe Biden
Kamala Harris
Libertarian Jo Jorgensen
Spike Cohen
Green Jesse Ventura
Cynthia McKinney
Constitution Don Blankenship
William Mohr
Independent Brock Pierce
Karla Ballard
Alliance Rocky De La Fuente
Darcy Richardson
Write-in 1,9610.55%N/A
Total votes359,530 100% +6.67%
Republican hold Swing


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WrestleMania I 1985 World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view event

WrestleMania was the inaugural WrestleMania and inaugural professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event, produced by the World Wrestling Federation. It took place on March 31, 1985, at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The attendance for the event was 19,121. The event was seen by over one million viewers through closed-circuit television, making it the largest pay-per-view showing of a wrestling event on closed-circuit television in the United States at the time.

WrestleMania 2 1986 World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view event

WrestleMania 2 was the second annual WrestleMania professional wrestling pay-per-view event produced by the World Wrestling Federation. The event took place on April 7, 1986, making it the only WrestleMania that was not held on the traditional Sunday until the two-night WrestleMania 36 in April 2020. The event took place at three venues simultaneously: the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Uniondale, New York, the Rosemont Horizon in the Chicago suburb of Rosemont, Illinois, and the Los Angeles Memorial Sports Arena in Los Angeles, California.

Rikishi (wrestler) American professional wrestler

Solofa Fatu Jr. is an American professional wrestler, best known under the ring names Rikishi and Fatu with World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE), where he is a one-time Intercontinental Champion, two-time World Tag Team Champion, and one-time WWE Tag Team Champion. He is a member of the Anoa'i family of Samoan wrestlers. He was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame by his sons, wrestlers Jey and Jimmy Uso, in 2015.

Jim Ross American professional wrestling commentator, referee, and restaurateur

James William Ross is an American professional wrestling commentator and talent relations executive, currently signed with All Elite Wrestling (AEW) as a commentator, analyst, and senior advisor. Ross is best known for a long and distinguished career as a play-by-play commentator for the WWE. He is known affectionately as Good ol' JR and has been labeled as the greatest wrestling commentator of all time.

Bobby Heenan American professional wrestler, professional wrestling commentator and manager

Raymond Louis Heenan was an American professional wrestling manager, color commentator, wrestler, and comedian, best known for his time with the American Wrestling Association (AWA), the World Wrestling Federation and World Championship Wrestling (WCW) under the ring name Bobby "The Brain" Heenan.

Gorilla Monsoon American professional wrestler

Robert James Marella, better known by his ring name of Gorilla Monsoon, was an American professional wrestler, play-by-play commentator, and booker.

WWF Womens Tag Team Championship Former championship created and promoted by the American professional wrestling promotion World Wrestling Federation

The WWF Women's Tag Team Championship was a women's professional wrestling tag team title in the World Wrestling Federation. The belief its holders were considered world champions was expressed by Jesse Ventura, an announcer for some of its defenses. Velvet McIntyre and Princess Victoria were recognized as the inaugural champions when they came to the promotion in 1983 as the National Wrestling Alliance's World Women's Tag Team Champions. The final champions were The Glamour Girls when the titles were abandoned in 1989.

<i>WWF Superstars of Wrestling</i>

WWF Superstars of Wrestling is a professional wrestling television program that was produced by the World Wrestling Federation. It debuted on September 6, 1986, as the flagship program of the WWF's syndicated programming.

Masa Saito Japanese professional wrestler

Masanori Saito was a Japanese professional wrestler better known as Mr. Saito or Masa Saito (マサ斎藤), who wrestled for 33 years around the world. He had success as a singles wrestler, winning the AWA World Heavyweight Championship in 1990, and as a tag team wrestler with multiple partners in various National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) territories.

SummerSlam (1988) World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view event

The 1988 SummerSlam was the inaugural SummerSlam professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by the World Wrestling Federation. It took place on August 29, 1988, at Madison Square Garden in New York City, New York. The pay-per-view was created to help the company compete against rival promotion World Championship Wrestling. It was one of the first four annual pay-per-view events produced by the WWF, along with WrestleMania, the Royal Rumble, and Survivor Series, which were eventually dubbed the "big four".

SummerSlam (1999) World Wrestling Federation pay-per-view event

The 1999 SummerSlam was the 12th annual SummerSlam professional wrestling pay-per-view (PPV) event produced by the World Wrestling Federation. It took place on August 22, 1999, at the Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Nine matches were contested at the event.

Jack Reynolds (broadcaster)

Jack Reynolds, born Joseph James Rizzo, was a broadcaster from Cleveland, Ohio who was better known outside of his hometown as a professional wrestling announcer.

Stephen Cepello is an American artist and a former professional wrestler. As a wrestler, he was best known by his ring names, Steve Strong. After retiring from wrestling to focus on his art career, he was selected to paint the official Governor's Mansion and Minnesota State Capitol portraits of former wrestler and Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura.

<i>Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura</i> Television series

Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura is an American television series hosted by Jesse Ventura and broadcast on truTV. It ran for three seasons from 2009 to 2012 and was canceled in 2013.

Michael James Penzel was an American professional wrestler and United States Army paratrooper. He was best known for his appearances with the World Wrestling Federation under the ring name Corporal Kirchner in the mid-1980s, as well as his appearances in Japan for New Japan Pro-Wrestling, W*ING, International Wrestling Association Japan, and Frontier Martial-Arts Wrestling under the ring name Leatherface.

Chris Kyle American military sniper (1974–2013)

Christopher Scott Kyle was a United States Navy SEAL sniper. He served four tours in the Iraq War and was awarded several commendations for acts of heroism and meritorious service in combat. He had over 150 kills. He was awarded the Silver Star, four Bronze Star Medals with "V" devices, a Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, and numerous other unit and personal awards.


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Further reading

Party political offices
First Reform nominee for Governor of Minnesota
Succeeded by
Political offices
Preceded by Governor of Minnesota
Succeeded by