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Jesse Ventura is the subject of an upcoming PBS documentary

The Tonight Show with Jay Leno - Season 7 Photo by: Margaret Norton/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

Former Minnesota Gov. and WWE Hall of Famer Jesse Ventura is the subject of an upcoming documentary coming to Twin Cities PBS. The special, titled Jesse Ventura Shocks the World, airs this Tuesday (Jan. 16) and covers Ventura’s time as a professional wrestler to his shocking victory in the 1998 Minnesota gubernatorial election.

Per the Twin Cities PBS press release:

Jan. 10, 2024 (St. Paul, MN) — Timed with the 25th anniversary of Jesse Ventura’s inauguration as the Governor of Minnesota, Twin Cities PBS (TPT) is proud to announce the premiere of “Jesse Ventura Shocks the World,” an exploration of the extraordinary journey of Jesse “The Body” Ventura from the wrestling ring to the governor’s mansion. This thought-provoking film, set to premiere on January 16, 2024, delves into Ventura’s groundbreaking election as the Governor of Minnesota, offering a captivating look at his legacy and lasting impact on American politics in the years after his election.

In 1998, Jesse Ventura’s election as the Governor of Minnesota took the nation by surprise. “Jesse Ventura Shocks the World” explores the intriguing story behind this election, providing a compelling account of the moments that forever altered the political landscape. The documentary paints a vivid picture of how Ventura’s unique blend of charisma, authenticity, and non-partisan appeal resonated with Minnesotans and left an indelible mark on the state’s history.

“If you think you know Ventura’s story, you don’t,” says Mary Lahammer, the film’s executive producer. “We have a massive archive of interviews and never-before-seen footage that add context to his evolution from wrestler-celebrity to politician, and that will lead to some surprises along the way.”

The film traces Jesse Ventura’s transformation to the elected leader of Minnesota and the issues that were important to him, including women’s rights, LGBTQ advocacy, marijuana legalization and a nonpartisan judiciary, among others. In addition, the film explores how that very departure from politics-as-usual influenced the overall political landscape in the U.S.

“Jesse Ventura Shocks the World” also underscores the enduring legacy of Ventura’s tenure, illustrating that every vote carries the power to shape the future of a community, state, or nation.

The documentary is based on the insights, anecdotes and commentary from Lahammer’s tenure as an award-winning political reporter for Twin Cities PBS, as well as additional interviews with longtime Political Reporter and “Almanac” Host Eric Eskola. Lahammer has spent decades covering Jesse Ventura’s career and the intricacies of Minnesota politics. In the film, she provides viewers with an intimate perspective on Ventura’s life and career, offering a unique behind-the-scenes look at the man behind the myth. Lahammer’s co-executive producer is TPT’S WEM Endowed Director of History Daniel Bergin, while award-winning filmmaker Kevin Dragseth produced and directed the documentary.

Don’t miss the premiere of “Jesse Ventura Shocks the World” on January 16, 2024 on TPT 2 at 8 pm. The film will also be available for streaming on the PBS App. Playful as it is serious, this documentary promises to be a must-watch for those interested in politics, wrestling, and the extraordinary journeys that shape the fabric of our nation.

A Vietnam veteran, Ventura served in the Navy for six years and was a member of Underwater Demolition (SEAL) Team 12. Following his discharge, Ventura began a career in pro wrestling in the late 1970s, calling himself The Body and patterning himself after “Superstar” Billy Graham.

A headliner and attraction for much of his career, Ventura retired from active competition due to health issues in the mid-’80s. However, he remained involved in wrestling, becoming arguably the most prolific color commentator of all time, along with Bobby Heenan.

After a battle over his likeness ensued with then-WWE owner Vince McMahon, Ventura left WWE and later joined World Championship Wrestling. At the same time, Ventura served as mayor of Brooklyn Park, MN, before running for governor of Minnesota in 1998.

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