Ken Bone talks about life after internet fame

Ken Bone talks about life after internet fame
(Source: CNN)
(Source: CNN)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - Ken Bone, who gained internet fame during the second presidential debate, is in Memphis to meet with voters and take part in a Friday morning event. 

However, he and his family experienced a scare before touching down in the Bluff City.

Bone said someone called a threat in to police last night claiming they had killed his wife and child and left a bomb inside his home.

"Just last night I got home from a speaking engagement at St. Louis University where I was getting some young people excited about getting out and voting and having a good time taking pictures with them, and when I got home there were five police officers from my local police department with assault rifles sweeping my house for explosives," Bone said. "Because somebody thought it was funny to call in a bomb threat."

He said the drama and negativity that comes with being well known didn't end there.

"I learned from the police just as I landed here in Memphis that they did it again this afternoon. I have a voicemail on my phone that I was listening to as I was walking in [to WMC studios] of someone pretending to be my wife screaming for help," Bone said. "If you want to call me and hang up that's fine. But if you're going to threaten to blow up my 13-year-old son, I hope you go to jail."

He said this is not the first time his family has been threatened since his appearance on national television during the presidential debates. However, he said the majority of the negativity comes from the internet or anonymously.

"I get like 90 percent positive stuff, and I have never met anyone in person that has been anything but positive," Bone said. "It's the internet. You're going to get negative comments."

"When you have the promise of anonymity, you'll say or do anything," Bone said.

But, despite incidents such as the threats, he continues to make appearances and do interviews with one intention.

"My big message has been about making your voice heard," Bone said. "I got, just by sheer chance, to be at the town hall debate and make the candidates listen to my question and answer me, so I got to be part of the voice of the American people. Everybody else can too. You get out to the polls on Tuesday and you become part of the voice of the people."

He said the election is about more than the president, and voters have options.

"If you're sick of listening to two candidates bicker at each other, vote for somebody else," Bone said. "As long as you're also voting for your congressmen, your senators, your dogcatchers, your city councilmen. They affect your life more everyday than the president can."

When it came to the town hall presidential debate that thrusts Bone into the national, and international, spotlight, he said he was among 40 people on the stage that had questions they wanted to ask. He just became one of the lucky ones to get a chance to ask his question.

"I knew I was going to be on the stage and be in the queue to ask the question, but nobody knew what order they were going to be in or if they would even get to you," Bone said.

Despite declining to say who he voted for in the presidential election, he talked about the election overall as being extremely negative.

"I think it's an incredibly negative election cycle that's been going on for too long," Bone said. "Both of these campaigns have committed errors that would have cost any other campaign in the last 50 years the election outright."

He said he would not tell who he punched the button for in the presidential election because that is not what his message or his efforts are about.

"I don't want the discussion to be about who the guy in St. Louis is voting for, I just want the discussion to be about getting out and voting," Bone said. "If I tell anybody who I voted for no good can really come of it. All the things I"m trying to do for charity and all the things I'm trying to do to get people out to vote and make their voice heard. That goes away."

However, when it comes to the famous red sweater, Bone said that was not the original plan. His initial plan was to wear a suit his grandfather really liked.

"He really like this suit on me and he passed away last Christmas and I thought, well I'll wear this suit that grandpa liked so much," Bone said. "Apparently I gained a bunch of weight since he died because when I was getting in my car to leave for the debate I tore the seat in my pants and had to switch to Plan B, which was the famous red sweater."

"It's really nice. It's comfy. It usually only comes out at Christmas but it had to make an appearance early this year."

He said he believes the internet became fascinated with him after the debate because he was a normal guy that had a good question.

"I think it started out just because I was a goofy looking guy with a mustache and a red sweater and I kind of looked like everybody's favorite uncle from Christmas when you were a kid," Bone said. "They were willing to have fun with it and then I stood up and asked my question and they thought that's actually kind of articulate. Maybe this guy has something to say. Then the next morning I go on television and tell the story about tearing my pants and most people realized I'm just a regular guy that's willing to say things most people wouldn't want to say about themselves on television so they've just been having a good time."

Bone is in Memphis to take part in radio station Rock 103's "Pancake Anti-Social." It will be a live broadcast from the Haystack in Millington Friday morning.

In addition to appearing at the event, he is planning on taking a seat behind a drum set.

"Sitting in on the drums with the house band. I used to be pretty good, I'm not anymore so they might be in for a rude surprise," Bone said. "Any rock-n-roll music you play at 6 in the morning is going to be an experience to begin with. It could be great or it could be terrible or somewhere in between."

Bone has taken vacation days from his job to travel and encourage others to get out and vote and make a difference. He also does charity work for several charities in St. Louis.

As for a potential future in politics himself, he said it is unlikely.

"I don't even go to HOA meetings, but if I thought I could do any real good I'd probably run for city council and start there, and if I thought I was affecting any real change, maybe Congress a few years later, but I really don't see that happening."

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