U.S. presidents are some of the most studied, discussed, and well-known figures in history. Yet there is so much about them that still manages to surprise. From odd hobbies and strange coincidences to just downright quirky behavior, presidents of the United States are colorful characters you may only think you understand. Here are 30 astonishing facts about them:-
Out of the many commercial products that Donald Trump has put his name on, the Tour de Trump—a bike race meant to be the American answer to the Tour de France—might be the oddest. It was called that for its first two years (1989-’90) before being renamed the Tour de DuPont for its final six years as an event.
Barack Obama’s love for basketball was well-known worldwide, but according to one of his high school teammates, he earned his nickname “Barry O’Bomber” because of all the tough shots he was known to take and miss. He was mostly a bench warmer on the team, which was regarded as one of the best in the nation. But he wasn’t happy about it.
GEORGE W. BUSH
In 1993—two years before he became the governor of Texas—George W. Bush ran the Houston Marathon, finishing with a time of 3:44:52. He is the only president to have ever run a marathon. Even he was a sub-4-hour marathoner. Even during his presidency, the former Yale cheerleader jogged six days a week. Considering many of his competitors probably smoked and drank heavily.
Ronald Reagan’s last acting role was also his first go as a villain. The film, 1964’s The Killers, was based on an Ernest Hemingway story and was intended to be one of the first made-for-television movies. The network, however, deemed it too violent for TV, so it was released in theaters instead.
The distillery was established in 1797 and produced about 11,000 gallons of whiskey per year. Today, the distillery still releases a limited number of bottles annually and is open to visitors. Distilleries were very common in early America. In the 1810 census, there were more than 3600 distilleries operating in the state of Virginia alone. At its time Washington’s distillery was one of the largest whiskey distilleries in the country.
JOHN F. KENNEDY
In 1940, Kennedy attempted to enter the army’s, Officer Candidate School. Despite months of training, he was medically disqualified due to his chronic lower back problems. On September 24, 1941, Kennedy, with the help of the director of the Office of Naval Intelligence and former naval attaché to Joseph Kennedy, joined the United States Naval Reserve. He has commissioned an ensign on October 26, 1941, and joined the staff of the Office of Naval Intelligence in Washington, D.C.
During his third campaign running for president, Roosevelt was set to deliver a speech in Wisconsin when a would-be assassin by the name of John Schrank shot him in the chest. Thankfully, Roosevelt’s speech was so long that the 50 pages of notes in his chest pocket slowed the bullet, and he went on to finish his 84-minute speech. According to the Roosevelt Association, he addressed the audience then and there with the news:-
“I don’t know whether you fully understand that I have just been shot. I had my manuscript, so you see I was going to make a long speech, and there is a bullet—there is where the bullet went through—and it probably saved me from it going into my heart. The bullet is in me now, so that I cannot make a very long speech, but I will try my best.”
Gerald Ford attended the University of Michigan, where he was a star football player. The team won national titles in both 1932 and ’33 (Ford’s sophomore and junior years). After graduation, he turned down offers to play with both the Detroit Lions and Green Bay Packers; instead, he took a coaching job at Yale University because he also wanted to attend their law school.
JOHN F. KENNEDY
John F. Kennedy lived off of his family’s considerable trusts, so he donated all of his congressional and presidential salaries to charities like the United Negro College Fund and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America.
FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT
When Franklin D. Roosevelt married Eleanor Roosevelt in 1905, they chose the date march 17 because President Theodore Roosevelt would be in New York City for the St. Patrick’s Day parade, and he’d agreed to walk Eleanor, his niece, down the aisle. Franklin D. Roosevelt and Theodore Roosevelt were fifth cousins.