A Kentucky high school class valedictorian riled up the crowd who attended the Bell County High School graduation ceremony on Saturday. Ben Bowling decided to share some inspirational quotes and chose to credit Donald J. Trump as the source. His quip garnered him resounding applause and cheers which abruptly ceased when he admitted that he was just joking.
According to the Louisville Courier-Journal, Bowling read the quote in full and cited the controversial president as the one who coined the motivating statement. As expected, the crowd erupted in cheers and applause. A majority of Kentucky voters supported Trump in his 2016 bid for president.
“This is the part of my speech where I share some inspirational quotes I found on Google,” Bowling said in his valedictory speech. “‘Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.’ – Donald J. Trump.”
The college-bound 18-year-old then told the crowd that he was “just joking” and that it was President Barack Obama who in fact had made the statement. A wave of silence overtook the room accompanied by a few jeers from the crowd. Bowling continued his speech, but his gag did not go unnoticed.
Bowling told The Courier that he meant no harm and was just trying to turn a normally-serious occasion into something more light-hearted and fun. But he also thought that it was a really good quote and figured that using it wouldn’t go over well in the red state.
“It is southeastern Kentucky after all,” Bowling said.
— Courier Journal (@courierjournal) June 3, 2018
Relatives and others in attendance seemed to find the future biology major’s joke entertaining at the very least. Twitter user @maltyhops identified himself as the husband of Bowling’s cousin. He called the young man’s quip an “A+ troll.”
lmao that’s my wife’s cousin . this is in southeastern kentucky, big time red state. a+ troll https://t.co/MbKUVm4YL4
— TRILLIONAIRE???? (@maltyhops) June 3, 2018
And University of Kentucky law school student Alisha Russell tweeted that Bowling’s gag was the best part of her day. She noted later the irony that her highest all-time favorited tweet was about someone else. She is considering getting an agent.
Y’all, no lie – the valedictorian just quoted Trump and everyone cheered.. then he told us that it was actually an Obama quote. Best part of the day. I am rolling.
— Alisha Russell (@_alisharussell) June 2, 2018
USA Today just shared an article with my tweet, so I think I need an agent.
— Alisha Russell (@_alisharussell) June 3, 2018
But Bowling says that the joke is all in clean fun. He will be attending the University of Kentucky this fall and plans to pursue a degree in medicine. The teen feels pretty confident about his future and seems to be taking it all in stride. He advises future valedictorians to be courageous in their speeches and to speak their minds. There is no need to worry.