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Jesse Ventura
Jesse Ventura 1996.jpg
Ventura in 1996
38th Governor of Minnesota
In office
January 4, 1999 – January 6, 2003
Lieutenant Mae Schunk
Preceded by Arne Carlson
Succeeded by Tim Pawlenty
Mayor of Brooklyn Park
In office
January 11, 1991 – January 13, 1995
Preceded by James Krautkremer
Succeeded by Grace Arbogast
Personal details
James George Janos

(1951-07-15) July 15, 1951 (age 72)
Minneapolis, Minnesota, U.S.
Political party Independent (1969–1998, 2003–2020, 2020–present)
Other political
Green (2020)
Independence (2000–2003)
Reform (1998–2000)
Theresa Larson Masters
(m. 1975)
Children 2
Education North Hennepin Community College
  • Politician
  • actor
  • professional wrestler
  • television presenter
  • author
  • commentator
Military service
Allegiance  United States
Branch/service  United States Navy
Years of service 1969–1975
Rank PO3 collar.png Petty officer third class
Battles/wars Vietnam War
Awards National Defense Service Medal ribbon.svg National Defense Service Medal
Professional wrestling career
Ring name(s) Jesse "The Body" Ventura
Surf Ventura
Billed height 6 ft 2 in (188 cm)
Billed weight 245 lb (111 kg)
Billed from San Diego, California
Brooklyn Park, Minnesota
Trained by Eddie Sharkey
Debut 1974
Retired 1986

Jesse Ventura (born James George Janos; July 15, 1951) is an American politician, actor, and retired professional wrestler. After achieving fame in the World Wrestling Federation (WWF, now WWE), he served as the 38th governor of Minnesota from 1999 to 2003. He was elected governor with the Reform Party and is the party's only candidate to win a major government office.

Ventura was a member of the United States Navy Underwater Demolition Team during the Vietnam War. After leaving the military, he embarked on a professional wrestling career from 1975 to 1986, taking the ring name "Jesse 'the Body' Ventura". He had a lengthy tenure in the WWF/WWE as a performer and color commentator and was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame class of 2004. In addition to wrestling, Ventura pursued an acting career, appearing in films such as Predator and The Running Man (both released in 1987 and starring fellow muscleman-turned-actor-turned-governor Arnold Schwarzenegger).

Ventura entered politics in 1991 when he was elected mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, a position he held until 1995. He was the Reform Party candidate in the 1998 Minnesota gubernatorial election, running a low-budget campaign centered on grassroots events and unusual ads that urged citizens not to "vote for politics as usual". In a major upset, Ventura defeated both the Democratic and Republican nominees. Amid internal fights for control over the party, Ventura left the Reform Party a year after taking office and served the remainder of his term as governor as a member of the Independence Party of Minnesota. Since holding public office, Ventura has called himself a "statesman" rather than a politician.

As governor, Ventura oversaw reforms of Minnesota's property tax as well as the state's first sales tax rebate. Other initiatives he took included construction of the METRO Blue Line light rail in the Minneapolis–Saint Paul metropolitan area and income tax cuts. Ventura did not run for reelection. After leaving office in 2003, he became a visiting fellow at Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government. He has since hosted a number of political television shows on RT America and Ora TV, and written several books. Ventura has been a prominent figure in third party politics, having repeatedly floated the idea of running for President of the United States as an independent candidate.

In late April 2020, Ventura endorsed the Green Party in the 2020 presidential election and showed interest in running for its nomination. He officially joined the Green Party of Minnesota on May 2. On May 7, he confirmed he would not run. The Alaskan division of the Green Party nominated Ventura without his involvement, causing the national party to disown it for abandoning its nominee, Howie Hawkins.

Early life

Ventura was born James George Janos on July 15, 1951 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, the son of George William Janos and his wife, Bernice Martha (née Lenz). Both his parents were World War II veterans. Ventura has an older brother who served in the Vietnam War. Ventura has described himself as Slovak since his father's parents were from Kingdom of Hungary; his mother was of German descent. Ventura was raised as a Lutheran. Born in South Minneapolis "by the Lake Street bridge," he attended Cooper Elementary School, Sanford Junior High School, and graduated from Roosevelt High School in 1969. Roosevelt High School inducted Ventura into its first hall of fame in September 2014.

Ventura served in the United States Navy from December 1, 1969, to September 10, 1975, during the Vietnam War, but did not see combat. He graduated in BUD/S class 58 in December 1970 and was part of Underwater Demolition Team 12.

Ventura has frequently referred to his military career in public statements and debates. He was criticized by hunters and conservationists for saying in a 2001 interview with the Minneapolis Star Tribune, "Until you have hunted men, you haven't hunted yet."


Near the end of his Navy service, Ventura began to spend time with the "South Bay" chapter of the Mongols motorcycle club in San Diego. He would ride onto Naval Base Coronado on his Harley-Davidson wearing his Mongol colors. According to Ventura, he was a full-patch member of the club and third-in-command of his chapter, but never had any problems with the authorities. In the fall of 1974, Ventura left the bike club to return to the Twin Cities. Shortly after that, the Mongols entered into open warfare with their biker rivals, the Hells Angels.

Ventura attended North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota in suburban Minneapolis during the mid-1970s. At the same time, he began weightlifting and wrestling. He was a bodyguard for The Rolling Stones for a time before he entered professional wrestling and adopted the wrestling name Jesse Ventura.

Professional wrestling career

Early career

Ventura created the stage name Jesse "The Body" Ventura to go with the persona of a bully-ish beach bodybuilder, picking the name "Ventura" from a map as part of his "bleach blond from California" gimmick. As a wrestler, Ventura performed as a heel, resurrecting Gorgeous George's old motto of "Win if you can, lose if you must, but always cheat!", which he emblazoned on his t-shirts. Much of this flamboyant persona was adapted from Superstar Billy Graham, a charismatic and popular performer during the 1970s. Years later, as a broadcaster, Ventura made a running joke out of claiming that Graham stole all his ring attire ideas from him.

In 1975, Ventura made his debut in the Central States territory, before moving to the Pacific Northwest, where he wrestled for promoter Don Owen as Jesse "The Great" Ventura. ..... He later moved to his hometown promotion, the American Wrestling Association in Minnesota, and began teaming with Adrian Adonis as the "East-West Connection" in 1979. In his RF Video shoot in 2012, he revealed that shortly after he arrived in the AWA he was given the nickname "the Body" by Verne Gagne. The duo won the AWA World Tag Team Championship on July 20, 1980, on a forfeit when Gagne, one-half of the tag team champions along with Mad Dog Vachon, failed to show up for a title defense in Denver, Colorado. The duo held the belts for nearly a year, losing to "The High Flyers" (Greg Gagne and Jim Brunzell).


In 1987, while negotiating his contract as a WWF commentator, Ventura waived his rights to royalties on videotape sales when he was falsely told that only feature performers received such royalties. In November 1991, having discovered that other non-feature performers received royalties, Ventura brought an action for fraud, misappropriation of publicity rights, and quantum meruit in Minnesota state court against Titan Sports, asking for $2 million (~$3.6 million in 2021) in royalties based on a fair market value share. Titan moved the case to federal court, and Ventura won an $801,333 jury verdict on the last claim. In addition, the judge awarded him $8,625 in back pay for all non-video WWF merchandising featuring Ventura. The judgment was affirmed on appeal, and the case, 65 F.3d 725 (8th Cir.1995), is an important result in the law of restitution. As a result, Ventura's commentary is removed on most releases from WWE Home Video.

Return to the WWF/WWE

In mid-1999, Ventura reappeared on WWF television during his term as governor of Minnesota, acting as the special guest referee for main event of SummerSlam held in Minneapolis. Ventura continued his relationship with the WWF by performing commentary for Vince McMahon's short-lived XFL. On the June 4, 2001, episode of Raw which aired live from Minnesota, Ventura appeared to overrule McMahon's authority and approve a WWF Championship match between then-champion Stone Cold Steve Austin and Chris Jericho. On the March 20, 2003, episode of SmackDown!, Ventura appeared in a taped interview to talk about the match between McMahon and Hogan at WrestleMania XIX. On March 13, 2004, he was inducted into the WWE Hall of Fame, and the following night at WrestleMania XX, he approached the ring to interview Donald Trump, who had a front-row seat at the event. Trump affirmed that Ventura would receive his moral and financial support were he to ever reenter politics. Alluding to the 2008 election, Ventura boldly announced, "I think we oughta put a wrestler in the White House in 2008!". Ventura was guest host on the November 23, 2009, episode of Raw, during which he retained his heel persona by siding with the number one contender Sheamus over WWE Champion John Cena. This happened while he confronted Cena about how it was unfair that Cena always got a title shot in the WWE, while Ventura never did during his WWE career. After that, Sheamus attacked Cena and put him through a table. Ventura then made the match a Table match at TLC: Tables, Ladders and Chairs. During the show, for the first time in nearly 20 years, McMahon joined Ventura ringside to provide match commentary together.

Acting career

Near the end of his wrestling career, Ventura began an acting career. He appeared in the movie Predator (1987), whose cast included future California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger and future Kentucky gubernatorial candidate Sonny Landham. Ventura became close friends with Schwarzenegger during the production of Predator. He appeared in two episodes of Zorro filmed in Madrid, Spain, in 1991. He had a starring role in the 1990 sci-fi movie Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe. He had supporting roles in The Running Man, No Holds Barred, Thunderground, Demolition Man, Repossessed, Ricochet, The Master of Disguise (in which he steals the Liberty Bell), Ready to Rumble, and Batman & Robin—the first and last of these also starring Schwarzenegger. Ventura made a cameo appearance in Major League II as "White Lightning". He appeared as a self-help guru (voice only) in The Ringer, trying to turn Johnny Knoxville into a more confident worker. Ventura had a cameo in The X-Files episode "Jose Chung's From Outer Space" as a Man in Black alongside fellow 'MiB' Alex Trebek. In 2008, Ventura was in the independent comedy Woodshop, starring as high school shop teacher Mr. Madson. The film was released September 7, 2010.


Year Title Role
1987 Predator Blain Cooper
The Running Man 'Captain Freedom'
1989 Thunderground The Man
No Holds Barred Himself
1990 Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe Abraxas
Repossessed Himself
1991 Tagteam Bobby Youngblood
Ricochet Jake Chewalski
1993 Living and Working in Space: The Countdown Has Begun DMV Testee
Demolition Man CryoCon
1994 Major League II Himself
1997 Batman & Robin Arkham Asylum Guard
2000 Ready to Rumble Himself
2001 Joe Somebody Himself
2002 The Master of Disguise Himself
2005 The Ringer Motivational Speaker
2008 Borders Conrad
2010 Woodshop Mr. Madson
2014 The ... Governor Littleton

Other media

Ventura was a bodyguard for The Rolling Stones in the late 1970s and 1980s. Its lead singer, Mick Jagger, said of him, "He's done us proud, hasn't he? He's been fantastic."

In the late 1980s, Ventura appeared in a series of Miller Lite commercials.

In 1989, Ventura co-hosted the four episodes of the DiC Entertainment children's program Record Breakers: World of Speed along with Gary Apple. In 1991, the pilot episode for Tag Team, a television program about two ex-professional wrestlers turned police officers, starred Ventura and Roddy Piper.

Ventura also co-hosted the short-lived syndicated game show The Grudge Match alongside sportscaster Steve Albert.

Between 1995 and 1998, Ventura had radio call-in shows on KFAN 1130 and KSTP 1500 in Minneapolis–Saint Paul. He also had a brief role on the television soap opera The Young and the Restless in 1999.

Ventura has been criticized by the press for profiting from his heightened popularity. He was hired as a television analyst for the failed XFL football league in 2001, served as a referee at a WWF SummerSlam match in 1999, and published several books during his tenure as governor. On his weekly radio show, he often criticized the media for focusing on these deals rather than his policy proposals.

From 2009 to 2012, TruTV aired three seasons of the television series Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura.

Ventura had a guest spot on an episode of the 2012 rebooted Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles animated series on Nickelodeon.

In 2013, Ventura announced a new show, Jesse Ventura: Uncensored, which launched on January 27, 2014, and later renamed Off the Grid, and aired until 2016 on Ora TV, an online video on demand network founded by Larry King.

In 2017, Ventura became the host of the show The World According to Jesse on RT America; the series ended in March 2022 when RT programming produced by its production partner Ora TV was suspended after Russia's invasion of Ukraine. RT America ceased operations on March 3, 2022.

Political career

Mayor of Brooklyn Park

After his departure from the WWF, Ventura took a former high school teacher's advice and ran for mayor of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota, in 1990. He defeated the city's 18-year incumbent mayor and served from 1991 to 1995. Many professional wrestling personalities have entered politics, but Ventura is among the few, including Jim Barnett and Antonio Inoki, to have remained active in wrestling while serving in a government role: he was simultaneously mayor and WCW's color commentator through much of his mayoral tenure.

Governor of Minnesota

Jesse Ventura 2000
Ventura in the Minnesota House of Representatives Chamber in 2000

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.

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!" 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.

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. 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.

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.

Political positions as governor

Jesse Ventura at the hearing on the future of WTO
Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura (center) testifies on China's participation in the WTO in March 2000
Jesse Ventura welcomes George W. Bush and Norm Coleman
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 "fiscally conservative and socially liberal." He selected teacher Mae Schunk as his running mate.

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. 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. The state was running a budget surplus at the time, and Ventura believed the money should be returned.

..... 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.

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. 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.

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

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.

Ventura greatly disapproved of some of the events 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". 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, 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 after Wellstone died a few days before the election.

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."

In his book Independent Nation, political analyst John Avlon calls Ventura a radical centrist thinker and activist.

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.

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. 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.

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. Ventura had vetoed this budget, but the state legislature overrode him. This deficit received national attention, for instance making a 10-question interview by Time journalist Matthew Cooper with Ventura. 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.

During his tenure as governor, Ventura drew frequent fire from the Twin Cities press. He called reporters "media jackals," with the label "Official Jackal" even appearing on the press passes required to enter his press area. 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". 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.

Consideration of bids for other political offices

Jesse Ventura in Los Angeles, July 2007 cropped
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. Franken won the election by a very narrow margin.

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. In 2003, he expressed interest in running for president while accepting an award from the International Wrestling Institute and Museum in Newton, Iowa. 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. 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. 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'."

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. 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. He also expressed an openness to be either Donald Trump's or Bernie Sanders's running mate in 2016. Ventura tried to officially endorse Sanders but his endorsement was rejected. 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." Despite this, he later claimed that he ended up voting for Green Party nominee Jill Stein.

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. "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."

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. In May, he announced that he would not run for health reasons, explaining that he would lose his employer-provided health insurance.

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." 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.

Political views

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. 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.

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."

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."

Other endeavors

Post-gubernatorial life

Jesse Ventura 2827650892 Agent Cody Banks Flickr
Ventura orating at the Rally for the Republic in 2008

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.

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". In the 2012 Senate elections, Ventura endorsed King in his campaign for the open Senate seat in Maine, which King won.

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. 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".

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

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. 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."

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.


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". 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."

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.


Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura

In December 2009, Ventura hosted TruTV's new show Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura. "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. According to TruTV, the first episode drew 1.6 million viewers, a record for a new series on the network.

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

We The People podcast

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


Navy SEAL background

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.

Ventura underwent BUD/S training and was assigned to a UDT team. He received the NEC 5321/22 UDT designation after completing a six-month probationary period 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 a SEALs.

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. 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".

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.

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.

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. 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.

Chris Kyle dispute

During a January 2012 interview on Opie and Anthony, former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle said he had punched Ventura in 2006 at 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. Ventura denied the event occurred.


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. 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.

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 executor of his estate, as the defendant. After a three-week trial in federal court in St. Paul in July 2014, the jury reached an 8–2 divided verdict in Ventura's favor, and awarded him $1.85 million, $500,000 for defamation and $1,345,477.25 for unjust enrichment. Ventura testified at the trial. In 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. Kyle's estate moved for either judgment as a matter of law or a new trial. In November 2014, the district court denied the motions.

Kyle's estate appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit. Oral argument was held in October 2015, 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." Ventura sought to appeal the circuit court's decision to the U.S. Supreme Court, but in January 2017, the Supreme Court declined to hear the appeal.

In December 2014, Ventura sued publisher HarperCollins over the same statement in American Sniper. 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.

Personal life


On July 18, 1975, three days after his 24th birthday, Ventura married his wife Terry. The couple have two children: a son, Tyrel, who is a film and television director and producer, and a daughter, Jade. 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.

Ventura and his wife split their time between White Bear Lake, Minnesota and Los Cabos, Baja California Sur, Mexico.


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.

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


Ventura has said that he was baptized a Lutheran.

In 1999, Ventura said in an NBC News interview that he was baptized a Lutheran, but he later came out as an atheist on The Joe Rogan Experience. .....

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." 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."

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.

Championships and accomplishments

  • American Wrestling Association
    • AWA World Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Adrian Adonis
  • Cauliflower Alley Club
    • Iron Mike Mazurki Award (1999)
  • Central States Wrestling
    • NWA World Tag Team Championship (Central States version) (1 time) – with Tank Patton
  • Continental Wrestling Association
    • AWA Southern Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
  • George Tragos/Lou Thesz Professional Wrestling Hall of Fame
    • Frank Gotch Award (2003)
  • NWA Hawaii
    • NWA Hawaii Tag Team Championship (1 time) – with Steve Strong
  • Pacific Northwest Wrestling
    • NWA Pacific Northwest Heavyweight Championship (2 times)
    • NWA Pacific Northwest Tag Team Championship (5 times) – with Bull Ramos (2), Buddy Rose (2) and Jerry Oates (1)
  • Pro Wrestling Illustrated
    • Ranked No. 239 of the top 500 singles wrestlers during the "PWI Years" in 2003
    • Ranked No. 67 of the top 100 tag teams of the "PWI Years" with Adrian Adonis
  • Ring Around The Northwest Newsletter
    • Wrestler of the Year (1976)
  • World Wrestling Entertainment
    • WWE Hall of Fame (Class of 2004)
  • Wrestling Observer Newsletter Awards
    • Best Color Commentator (1987–1990)

Electoral history

1990 Brooklyn Park mayoral election
Name Votes Percent Outcome
Jesse Ventura, non-partisan 12,728 63.3 gain
Jim Krautkremer (inc.), non-partisan 7,390 36.7 loss
1998 Minnesota gubernatorial election
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Reform Jesse Ventura 773,713 37.0 n/a
Republican Norm Coleman 717,350 34.3 -29.0
Democratic (DFL) Hubert H. "Skip" Humphrey III 587,528 28.1 -6.0
Green Ken Pentel 7,034 0.3 n/a
Others 5,365 0.3 n/a
Write-ins 776 n/a
Majority 56,363 2.7
Turnout 2,091,766 60.0
Reform gain from Republican Swing
2020 United States presidential election in Alaska
Party Candidate Votes % ±%
Republican Donald Trump
Mike Pence
189,951 52.8 +1.6
Democratic Joe Biden
Kamala Harris
153,778 42.8 +6.2
Libertarian Jo Jorgensen
Spike Cohen
8,897 2.5 −3.4
Green Jesse Ventura
Cynthia McKinney
2,673 0.7 −1.1
Constitution Don Blankenship
William Mohr
1,127 0.3 −0.9
Independent Brock Pierce
Karla Ballard
825 0.2 N/A
Alliance Rocky De La Fuente
Darcy Richardson
318 0.1 N/A
Write-in 1,961 0.6 N/A
Total votes 359,530 100 +6.7
Republican hold Swing

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Jesse Ventura para niños

  • List of American politicians who switched parties in office
Black History Month on Kiddle
Influential African-American Artists:
James Van Der Zee
Alma Thomas
Ellis Wilson
Margaret Taylor-Burroughs
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Jesse Ventura Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.