Things You Didn't Know About Ken Bone

The 2016 U.S. presidential election has been an especially storied one, as Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump vie to become the 45th Commander in Chief. Between the countless scandals, campaign trail mudslinging and heated live debates, these candidates' claims to the Oval Office have made for must-see TV, to say the least.

During their second debate in St. Louis, Missouri, though, a new personality claimed the spotlight when undecided voter Ken Bone raised a question about energy policy and stole the hearts of millions of Americans. Bone enjoyed some instant Internet fame as a result of his appearance at the event; but like most overnight sensations, he fell out of favor almost as quickly as he earned it. So, who is he, and why did he become so popular? Here's a look at what you may not know about America's (formerly?) favorite undecided voter.

He enjoyed a meteoric meme rise

Bone first caught the attention of debate watchers across the Internet thanks to his on-point question about energy. "What steps will your energy policy take to meet our energy needs while at the same time remaining environmentally friendly and minimizing job loss for fossil power plant workers?" He asked Clinton and Trump. It wasn't just the substance of the inquiry that interested Bone's newfound fanbase; it was also his penchant for "Jake from State Farm"-like fashions.

His seemingly harmless exterior and the slightly tremulous way with which he asked his all-too-important question made him something of a "hero" for those who'd been bothered by the lack of attention the debate(s) had paid to the subject of America's energy future. His rapid Internet notoriety wasn't lost on Bone, either, as he soon found himself enjoying publicity and financial opportunities coming off of his quickly ubiquitous name. He landed an endorsement deal with Uber; he began selling his own "Bone Zone" t-shirts; and he even designed a two-part policy for how and when he would deal with those ad opportunities that were just rolling in, according to him.

But all that exposure was also his undoing

Stemming from his suddenly high profile in the political arena, Bone was invited to participate in a Reddit AMA (Ask Me Anything) series which revealed numerous things about the St. Louis, Missouri native he probably hadn't meant to share. Although the content of his Q&A series was harmless enough, journalists who took the time to comb through his profile's history uncovered some disturbing comments that tarnished his all-American image.

Among the most deflating comments he'd made included calling Trayvon Martin's controversial shooting by George Zimmerman "justified"; referring to expecting mothers as "beautiful human submarines"; and admitting to falsely claiming to have car insurance in order avoid employment termination when he was a pizza delivery worker. He's since walked back on some of those statements; but for many, the damage of his comments, and his obvious cash run, was simply too great to be undone.

On the bright side, he is a charitable guy

Before the veil was lifted on Bone's Internet identity, he did reveal himself to be a philanthropic person. During his AMA, he pledged to donate 10 percent of the proceeds of his t-shirt sales to a local organization called the St. Patrick Center, which works to combat homelessness in his home city. He wrote: "St. Patrick Center provides temporary housing, job training, drug counseling, and help with mental health issues. There is a severe homelessness problem in this country. Most of us are one or two paychecks away from being homeless as well. We need to start seeing and intervening on their behalf."

His interest in the organization began after he had a very personal encounter with someone in need in his hometown. "I saw a man with no teeth and no shoes standing on a corner in my new hometown when I moved there [three] years ago as I'm driving the moving van," he wrote. "Here I am bringing all my stuff to a bigger, better house. Then I see him and realize that he has literally nothing but the sign in his hand. People driving by him giving him no more mind than a street sign or a shrub. I drove on by, reasoning that I was too busy to stop and help him out, it was moving day. Somebody else will give him a couple bucks. I never saw him again ... These are people who deserve love and happiness as much as me or anyone. But that day to me he was a shrub. Never again."

Bone also committed himself to shying away from opportunities with businesses he felt were potentially harmful to the environment, which was on-brand with his eco-friendly demeanor at the debates.

He also works for a power plant that he believes in

While his question during the debate could be applicable to any voter concerned about our country's energy problems, Bone actually had a clear vested interest in the answer. The reason: it's central to his livelihood. Bone has revealed that he not only works for a coal-fired power plant in the U.S., he also shared his belief that the company he works for has a problem-solving model for the future of the coal industry. "We need more clean plants like mine to be approved for construction. Older plants can't retrofit to be best in class environmentally because it would drive them out of business. That means we need newer ones manned by the displaced workers from those being retired," he wrote on Reddit.

Bone further elaborated on his proposed policy in an interview with Grist, saying that if he were in charge of the decision, he would "immediately allow the permitting of six more plants like mine. Six more would allow for the retirement of a pretty decent percentage of the older, less responsible plants." He said he even had a chance to speak with former President Bill Clinton about the industry's long history and pertinence during the debate.

He won't share his vote choice

Bone's publicity arose while he was still an undecided voter, and he has no intention of changing that aspect of his public personality anytime soon. His reason for keeping his choice under wraps, he wrote, is that he doesn't want to sway anyone else who might be following him. "I will not be announcing my decision. I want you to all make up your own minds. Don't rely on my opinion, just the positive message," he wrote.

What he would say was what he was looking for from the candidates when he first asked his famous question. "I wanted to hear more about environmental protection from Mr. Trump, and more about jobs from Secretary Clinton," he explained. As for what he heard? "They both did alright, but all answers from politicians are pretty much canned and rehearsed. Kinda like the ones I do on the radio."

He hasn't ruled out his own future in politics

Bone's maxim of life is "Be who you are. If people don't like who you are, they're not the right people to have in your life." That very attitude is what got him into the public forum to begin with, so he's not ruling out the possibility that he might eventually pursue a future on the political sphere. After all, he's already gotten a taste of the backlash that comes along with such a career track.

"I don't even go to [Homeowners' Associations] meetings, but if I really thought I could effect positive change I'd consider it," he wrote. He discouraged voters who expressed an interest in writing him in for the country's highest office, however, because as of this election, he's still a year shy of the constitutional age requirement (35 years). Still, he does have a prediction about what his campaign slogan might be if he ran in the next election cycle: "Ken Bone 2020: A beautiful godd*** disaster." Sounds about right.