Governor Ventura first entered the public eye in the mid-1970s as a profession wrestler, gaining fame for his physique and wrestling as Jesse “The Body” Ventura. He wrestled until 1984, when blood clots in his lungs ended his in-ring career. After a failed comeback bid, he worked as a color commentator on television for “All-Star Wrestling” and later “Superstars of Wrestling,” hosted his own talk segment on the WWF’s “Superstars of Wrestling” called “The Body Shop,” and did color commentary on radio for a few National Football League teams (among them, the Minnesota Vikings and Tampa Bay Buccaneers). Ventura most notably co-hosted “Saturday Night’s Main Event” with Vince McMahon and the first six WrestleManias (1985-1990).
Ventura’s acting career was a natural extension of his television work. He appeared in “Predator” (which starred future California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger). He had a starring role in the 1990 sci-fi movie “Abraxas, Guardian of the Universe,” and had supporting roles in “The Running Man,” “Demolition Man,” “Repossessed,” “Ricochet,” “The Master of Disguise” (in which he steals the Liberty Bell), and “Batman & Robin.” Ventura also made a cameo appearance in “Major League II” as “White Lightning” and appeared as a self-help guru (voice only) in “The Ringer” trying to turn Johnny Knoxville into a more confident worker. In addition, 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.
Ventura ran for governor of Minnesota as the nominee for the Reform Party of Minnesota. His campaign consisted of a combination of aggressive grassroots events and original television spots 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 narrowly–and unexpectedly–defeating the major-party candidates, Norm Coleman (Republican) and Minnesota Attorney General Hubert H. “Skip” Humphrey III (Democratic-Farmer-Labor).
Deciding not to seek a second term in office, Ventura left the political arena, but continued to speak out about the issues he cares most about. He taught a study group at Harvard University as a visiting fellow at the Kennedy School of Government’s Institute of Politics in which he focused on third party politics, campaign finance, the war on drugs, and other relevant political issues. He has written two books since leaving office, both with Dick Russell, “Don’t Start the Revolution Without Me!” and “American Conspiracies.” He also writes and hosts the television series “Conspiracy Theory with Jesse Ventura,” which airs on TruTV.