Do you smell what The Rock is politicking? Dwayne Johnson, 45, set off a media blitz in May 2017 when he once again talked about possible political aspirations. In an interview with GQ Magazine, Johnson said running was a “real possibility.” Johnson went on to tell the magazine that both Trump and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had asked for his endorsement but he refused.
The wrestler/actor says, “I feel like I’m in a position where my word carries a lot of weight and influence, which of course is why they want the endorsement. But I also have a tremendous amount of respect for the process and felt like if I did share my political views publicly, a few things would happen… I felt like it would either a() make people unhappy with the thought of whatever my political view was. And, also, it might sway an opinion, which I didn’t want to do.”
Here’s what you need to know about The Great One’s politics:
1. Johnson Says, ‘I Love My Country, I’m Extremely Patriotic’
During a 2016 interview with Reuters, Johnson said, “I love my country, I’m extremely patriotic and I also feel, especially now, leadership is so important, great leadership is so important, respected leadership is so important.” While Johnson added, “If I felt like I could be an effective leader for us, and surround myself with really high-quality leaders, then sure, I would.”
Johnson then told Reuters that he felt his burgeoning career as a movie producer would help him learn the skills needed to be a political leader. “I’ve found really good success in being able to galvanize people in a positive way and continued to push them, as I’ve pushed myself along the way too, because I walk what I talk, daily, which I think is an important quality.”
A few months previously, Alyssa Rosenberg, wrote in the Washington Post that Johnson had a “weirdly plausible path to a political career. The facts cited included that Johnson is mixed-race and is a registered Republican from Florida, a swing state to whomever wants to become president.
That Post piece was based of a previous interview that Johnson had done with GQ’s British iteration in 2016. Johnson said at the time:
I’ll be honest, I haven’t ruled politics out. I’m not being coy when I say that, but at the moment I’m not sure. I can’t deny that the thought of being governor, the thought of being president, is alluring.
And beyond that, it would be an opportunity to make a real impact on people’s lives on a global scale. But there are a lot of other things I want to do first.
The Post feature was also based on an Independent Review Journal article.
Johnson tweeted a positive response to the idea:
Johnson told the Associated Press in 2014, “I have good friends who are politicians on both sides. Clinton is a good buddy of mine, Obama is a good buddy of mine. A multitude of people who are buddies.”
2. Johnson Gave a ‘Very Odd’ Speech at the 2000 Republican Convention
In 2000, Johnson appeared at about the Democratic and Republican conventions as part of a WWE voter drive. During his appearance at the GOP event, Johnson introduced the disgraced former Speaker of the House, Dennis Hastert. Johnson referred to Hastert as “America’s best-known former high school wrestling coach.”
ABC News reported at the time that some hardline conservatives, including the Parents Television Council, were angry that Johnson was given a platform at the event. The year 2000 was arguably the height of WWE’s racy Attitude era. At the time of the PTC’s protests, the WWE included the message, “Leave our wrestling alone,” on their website.
During the 2016 Republican National Convention, Slate posted an article about Johnson’s appearance in 2000, referring to is as “very odd.”
3. The Rock Backed Away From Under Armor CEO Kevin Plank’s Pro-Trump Stance
Earlier in 2017, Johnson diffused a political hot potato with skill when when Under Armor CEO Kevin Plank praised Donald Trump. Johnson wrote to his fans in the above Instagram post where he wrote that Plank’s opinion was “neither my words, nor my beliefs.” Johnson referred to the company as having a “commitment to diversity, inclusion, community, open-mindedness and some serious hard work.”
Plank had said in an interview on CNBC that Trump was “an asset to the country.”
4. The Rock Got Into a Beef With New Jersey Governor Chris Christie in 2014
In 2014, Johnson got into a political beef with Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Johnson said that Christie’s reelection campaign had used his likeness without permission. Christie’s people backed down and Johnson’s references were taken out of the campaign ad, though you can still see it above.
Johnson would tell the Associated Press after the mini-scandal that he and Christie are friends. Johnson said:
I know Gov. Christie. We’ve met a couple of times. But in no way was I associated with what he had going on. He had his team of people around him who kind of put that together.
I saw it. I was like well, I don’t have anything to do with it, so now you’ve got to pull it down.
The campaign video was presented as a fake movie trailer based on Johnson’s movie, Pain & Gain. This is the revised version:
5. Prior to the Rock, Hulk Hogan Announced a Faux Run for President in 1998 While Jesse ‘The Body’ Ventura Was the Governor of Minnesota
Johnson would in no way be the first person from the entertainment world to enter politics. Trump, Reagan and Schwarzenegger were all stars before they jumped on Republican tickets. While in wrestling, the most famous crossover came in 1998 when Jesse “The Body” Ventura became the Governor of Minnesota. Ventura had been mooted as a possible candidate for the Libertarian Party in 2016 but “The Body” ultimately supported party nominee Gary Johnson in a CNBC editorial.
In a 1998 appearance on The Tonight Show, Hulk Hogan told Jay Leno that he was leaving wrestling in order to run for president. Though initially thought of a wrestling angle, Hogan later told Larry King in a 1999 interview:
It’s something that’s not out of the question, because with everybody having a different agenda and everybody owing everybody something in the political arena, it would be nice to have somebody that could put American first…
The way I look at it, if Jesse Ventura could become Governor of Minnesota, I mean basically beat Jesse at everything he’s done anyway in his life, so I might as well run for the president.
There was even polling done in Atlanta to see how many votes Hogan would garner. The event was covered in detail in a 2012 Bleacher Report feature.
While in Washington, former WWE CEO, Linda McMahon, wife of Vince, was named into Trump’s campaign as the Administrator of the Small Business Administration. McMahon was confirmed with a vote of 81-19 in February 2017.