Glenn Jacobs—better known as Kane to fans of pro wrestling—has been elected mayor of Knox County, Tennessee.
Jacobs captured Thursday’s election in convincing fashion, defeating Democratic nominee Linda Haney, 51,804 votes to 26,224.
“The entire thing is humbling,” said Jacobs. “The reason I won is because I had a great team around me. Those folks invested their time and their energy into helping me because they believed in me, and that’s very humbling. Also, people were willing to vote for me and tie their future to me, which is humbling and also a huge responsibility.”
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Knox County voted red for the “Big Red Machine”. Jacobs is a Republican, but campaigned a bi-partisan approach that is designed to enhance the quality of life for all his constituents.
His road to superstardom in wrestling was long and laborious, filled with sacrifice and failure. Jacobs applied that same fortitude to his campaign, never wavering from his message, or his belief in himself, despite external doubts from those in politics.
“I always believed I could win the election,” said Jacobs. “After I won the primary, people started telling me, ‘No one thought you had a chance.’ I was like, ‘Really?’ I thought I could win the whole time.
“I knew that, once people got to meet me and know me, that I could prove myself.”
Jacobs was calm and composed until he was asked about WWE CEO Vince McMahon.
“Vince has been very supportive throughout this entire endeavor,” said Jacobs. “He reached out to extend his congratulations.”
McMahon has employed Jacobs for the past 23 years, allowing him a platform that has helped him attain international success and seeing him mature from a single 28-year-old to a married 51-year-old father of two. The relationship between the two men mirrors one between a father and son, and the gargantuan Jacobs became softhearted as he discussed McMahon.
“Vince wants all of us to do well, no matter what we’re doing, because it reflects well on the company,” said Jacobs, who was forced to compose himself before continuing. “On a personal level, between me and him, it’s important to me that he is proud of me. He’s done so much for me and for my family. He sent me a text that got me all choked up.”
Jacobs set out to prove that any person willing to dedicate and devote themself to the betterment of the community could attain public office.
“I believe, in America, we’re a nation of people that are self-governors,” he explained. “This idea that only a chosen few elites have the ability to make decisions is foreign to me. I wanted to prove to folks that someone like me belonged in office as much as anyone else.”
Jacobs’s victory was also a win for the entire wrestling community.
“I was also out to prove that WWE stars are more than just wrestlers,” said Jacobs. “We’re entertainers. We’re worldwide, internationally-known superstars. Anything that I can do to break that stereotype, I’m all about it.
"Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson is the number one movie star in the world, and he’s a WWE superstar. Linda McMahon is the Small Business Administrator of the United States of America, and she was president of WWE. But somehow, people still have this stereotype of the WWE. I’m happy, on a personal level, to help destroy that stereotype.”
The victory celebration for Jacobs was brief, as he and his wife Crystal went back to work helping plan “One Unforgettable Night,” a teen dance they are hosting for chronically ill teens of East Tennessee Children’s Hospital in Knoxville.
Jacobs also expressed gratitude to his family for their support and love.
“My family, my wife Crystal and my daughters, were incredibly important,” said Jacobs. “They supported me throughout the entire process, which is a godsend because I couldn’t do it without them.”
The son of a veteran—his father served in both Vietnam and Korea—Jacobs’s journey to political office personifies the American ideal of the pursuit of happiness.
“I’m not special,” said Jacobs. “I have a unique skillset, but I think that anyone can do what they want in this country, and that’s what makes this country so great. All of us are born with certain gifts, and the secret to success is figuring out what your gift is and using it in a way that benefits others. Once you do, the sky is the limit.
“There are people a lot smarter, a lot more talented than I am, people who’ve accomplished things I can only imagine. Often, they started from the most humble of circumstances. That’s my message: freedom and opportunity. That’s the American Dream. Despite all the flaws and all the warts we may have in this country, it’s the freedom and opportunity that make this country so special.”
Justin Barrasso can be reached at JBarrasso@gmail.com. Follow him on Twitter @JustinBarrasso.