If you ever see some quote-unquote normal person suddenly become Internet famous, and you observe them trading their privacy for fifteen minutes of celebrity, with all the backlash it inevitably entails
, you may wonder why they'd bother. Why not run for the hills when someone offers you a T-shirt line
? Why not say "no" to Jimmy Kimmel
— or at least the Two Bens
? This never, ever ends well
Ken Bone has an answer for you. The answer is .... money.
Now, for Bone it's not only
money. It's clear the menschy Belleville resident also genuinely enjoys his time in the spotlight. But a recent profile on CNN.com made clear that his low-rent celebrity is a lot more remunerative than, say, working in a coal-fired power plant. In fact, Bone told CNN that he made $150,000 solely from "celebrity-related opportunities" over the last year
— roughly $45,000 more than he made toiling day to day in the energy business.
“I paid off my car and all my rotating debt,” he told CNN
. “We have a balance in our savings account that we've never really had before.”
As for who he voted for, Bone is still insistently mum on the subject, just he was on a recent appearance on Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher
. There, even when pressed to the point of genuine discomfort, Bone would only allow that he didn't vote for Jill Stein. Umm, did anyone?
In the CNN interview, Bone makes it clear he is not currently a fan of President Trump, ticking off numerous problems that any sane person would surely agree with (nuclear war with North Korea? Not good!). But he also allows that even if the money dried up, it would be hard to stop putting himself out there:
Last winter, Bone attended a St. Louis Blues hockey game and between periods his face appeared on the JumboTron.
“It was the biggest cheer of the night – 20,000 people screaming and chanting your name,” he says. “It's addictive, you know?”
Still, Bone says that he doesn't have an agent, and that he's only reacted to the offers he's gotten — he's never sought out any. “I don't want to become the person that's scratching and scrambling,” he tells CNN, “trying to get people to pay attention to me.”
So maybe there's hope. Perhaps the unlikely face of America's undecideds can
ease into his retirement from public life — with perhaps an occasional Jumbotron appearance to warm his heart, but no further endorsement deals or "will he or won't he" banter on the very tired question of just who he voted for in 2016. (Which, for the record, after watching Maher, we're convinced is obvious: He voted for Gary Johnson.)
After all, the car's paid off. He's got a healthy bank balance. Time for the next civilian from the heartland to charm the pants off America — and then cash in on a stint on Dancing with the Stars
. If not, there's always a T-shirt line.
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