The Rise and Subsequent Fall of Ken Bone

Ken Bone
By Rudi Riet - Flickr, CC BY-SA 2.0,

Ken Bone is a 34 year old coal plant worker living in a steel town near St. Louis, in Illinois. He asked a question about energy policy at the second presidential debate last Sunday – specifically regarding the candidates’ plans for coal power plants. It was a two part question inquiring about both the candidates energy policies and environmental policies. Ken Bone wore a bright red sweater, and sported a very interesting moustache.

Within only a few hours, this combination made him famous. He became an internet meme. He became a media celebrity. He was apolitical, stating time and again that he was truly undecided and would not be revealing his choice for candidate. His rise and subsequent fall can be seen through the headlines various media outlets made, hyping the inquisitive man.

A choice sample of the the hype allotted to the man made meme:

Washington Post:

America needed a hero. Kenneth Bone answered the call.


Rather than make this man some meme to be twisted by the dark scum of the web, let’s recognize him for being the one person not sucking our collective will to live.


…Ken Bone — he’s no conformist. He’s the person a divided America needs right now. The man who brought some levity to the ludicrous, some vim to counter the vitriol. The only thing that was making America great again.

The clickbait monster that is modern media, desperate for page views, hopped on the hype created by social media and put the spotlight on a regular Joe Ken from Illinois. Within only fourty-eight hours of the debate there were hundreds of ‘articles’, all using the same talking points about Kenneth Bone, American Hero. The list of headlines goes on and on. He was being interviewed by all sorts of reporters, and media personalities. He was interviewed by Jimmy Kimmel. Yes, the Jimmy Kimmel. He had his own shirt made, available for purchase. Ken Bone conversation meant “entering the Bone Zone”. Porn companies were giving him offers for webcam shows, which is understandable given his name. Or so we would presume, since his porn name only needs an ‘r’ to his last name in order to be viable in the business after all. Shortly afterwards he even had an Uber endorsement.

This honeymoon phase of enamored fascination with couldn’t last forever. Ken Bone would have been a short lived meme anyway regardless, his 15 minutes of fame waning until a new phenomena sweeps the nation.


His fall from grace started with an AMA over on Reddit. Unlike most PR-manicured commercial AMAs made by fading indie bands and local politicians, this was a regular guy who used his regular reddit account. The AMA ended up being a mistake. A bad one that ensured his downfall. Here were some of the posts he’s made with his account before the AMA:

on pregenant women


Various outlets were quick to pounce on the poor man in order to get page views and clicks.


Ken Bone Forgot to Delete His Reddit Porn Comments, Said Trayvon Martin Killing Was ‘Justified’

CNN Money:

Ken Bone’s charm may now be a thing of the past.

The Daily Beast:

Ken Bone’s Disturbing Reddit History Shows He’s Not Nearly as Adorable as We Thought

Ken Bone was hailed as a symbol of all that is right and good in America after his debate question on Sunday. Now, however, a fuller picture of the guy in a red sweater is emerging.

The New York Times were so kind to do an obituary for the poor man from Illinois:

This is an obituary for a fictional persona: Ken Bone, America’s Red-Breasted Hero.

The astronomical rise and plummeting free fall of Ken Bone, all told by headlines. In a sense, he was a man who was adopted for a short while by the media, only to be chewed out and discarded after use after they had their fun. In a sense it can be compared to all the movies from the 80’s where the evil jocks have when they ‘adopt’ a nerd for a day, only to bully him later. With the media taking on the role as the jocks.