Nobody can resist that teddy bear demeanor (or that fabulous red sweater).
By Lindsey Davis, Iowa State University
Kenneth Bone—an American hero.
Even if you didn’t watch the second presidential debate Sunday night, chances are you heard of the viral sensation that is Ken Bone. Donning a vibrant red sweater and a sweet spirit, Bone offered a refreshing break from the otherwise gruesome 90 minutes of Clinton/Trump banter.
Bone, an undecided voter, became an instant celebrity after his ten seconds of airtime in which he asked the presidential candidates, “What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job layoffs?”
It’s a mixture of the big, teddy bear vibe and the innocent aura emanating from Bone that makes his simple question so marvelous. It’s been said that first impressions are made within the first seven seconds of meeting someone, and it only took these initial seconds of hearing Bone speak to win a whole nation over.
Social media has been aflutter ever since Ken Bone stole the hearts of Americans. There is a meme of him crossing the Delaware, becoming the newest member of a hip-hop group, t-shirts persisting that he becomes the next president and a Halloween starter kit, although Bone already said he knows what his get-up is this year.
“I’m going as myself for Halloween. It will be the best costume ever,” he said.
Bone’s Twitter followers and Facebook friends mushroomed after his appearance at the debate. He told a radio station in St. Louis Monday morning, “When I got back to my car and turned it on I had 423 Facebook friend requests. I just went ahead and accepted them all and it made me feel good about myself for a minute.”
He also described to CNN how surprised he was at his sudden increase of Twitter followers.
“I went from, last night, having seven Twitter followers, two of which were my grandmother…to now, I have several hundred,” he said. “And I don’t know why they care what I have to say, but I’m glad they’re engaged in the political process.”
From the comments made in interviews after the debate, it’s clear that Bone is a true sweetheart who just wants to make an informed decision about who he will vote for in the upcoming election.
In an interview with the “New York Times,” he told reporters that he was “a bit let down” by the personal attacks that occurred during the debate and that he tries to “focus less on the negatives and more on the positives.” He also told Jimmy Kimmel Monday night that he was still undecided even after the town hall style debate.
“Donald Trump is more in line with my economic interests, because I work in coal—electricity,” he said.
“But I would really hate for anyone’s rights to get taken back,” he continued. “We fought so hard to get marriage equality and rights expanded to more Americans. It would be unconscionable to me to see those rights taken away by a Supreme Court Justice appointed by Donald Trump.”
Aside from his newfound role as America’s hero, Bone works 12-hour shifts in the control room of a coal-fired power plant. He said he chose to ask an energy-focused question to the candidates because he had hoped to “spark a debate about subsidies for environmental controls for older coal-fired power plants.” If only he knew then that his question would cause him to rise to instant fame. Oh, Bone, such a naïve soul.
Potentially the best thing about Bone is that he still takes photographs on a disposable camera. Video footage from after the debate shows him taking photos around the stage with his old-school Kodak. I mean, who does this? Ken Bone is a simple man, and that’s so refreshing.
The now infamous story of his decision to wear the red sweater, caused by a wardrobe malfunction, drives his sweetheart effect even further. Bone had planned to wear an olive suit to the debate that his grandfather helped him pick out, but a last minute rip in the pants forced him to quickly change. He told Jimmy Kimmel that his grandpa would have been so proud to see him in the suit, but that he’s put on weight since buying it, causing the split in the seam.
The sweater, an IZOD Men’s Cable Solid ¼ Zip in Red Dahlia, is available on Amazon.com. A clothing item that probably didn’t generate too much traffic for the online retail store before this past Sunday is now a hot commodity. The comments on the sweater’s page are heartwarming and hilarious.
Amazon customer Christopher C. Curtis commented, “This cable knit sweater paired with a white Oxford is the perfect combo when staring down fascism. The only thing you’ll be grabbing while wearing this sweater is the hearts of all Americans. Runs a little small.”
Timothy Chippy wrote, “I was inspired by future President of the United States Ken Bone. I love everything he stands for and that includes beautiful quarter zip red sweaters. #4yearsofsweaterweather.”
Both of these statements are just a couple of the testaments spoken by the American people about Kenneth Bone.
In a time of political turmoil, he’s just what this country needs.
Bone mentioned both his grandfather and grandmother to the media, he uses a disposable camera and he is most excited about his instant fame because it may encourage more people to vote. I truly don’t know how a person could get any better than this. It’s so obvious why America loves Ken Bone. He’s just what America is desperate for in a time of a mean-spirited, low-blowing election. The United States needed a breath of fresh air, which is exactly what Bone offers.
Whether he’ll be forgotten as quickly as Susan Boyle and Octomom, or whether he’ll still be relevant for the 2020 election, only time will tell. But, I don’t think I’m the only one who hopes that infectious spirit and that killer red sweater will stick around for a while.