The Slatest

Valedictorian in Kentucky Dupes His School’s Trump Fans Into Applauding an Obama Quote

US President Donald Trump smiles after addressing the US Naval Academy graduating class on May 25, 2018 in Annapolis, Maryland. (Photo by Nicholas Kamm / AFP)        (Photo credit should read NICHOLAS KAMM/AFP/Getty Images)
President Donald Trump after addressing the US Naval Academy graduating class on May 25, 2018.
NICHOLAS KAMM/Getty Images

In the heart of Kentucky’s coal country, Obama got a round of applause—from people who thought they were applauding Trump. That was thanks to high school valedictorian Ben Bowling, who pulled a fast one Saturday on parents, faculty, fellow graduates, and distinguished guests during his speech at a Pineville, Kentucky, high school’s commencement ceremony.

“This is the part of my speech where I share some inspirational quotes I found on Google,” the 18-year-old told the crowd at Bell County High School. “‘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 crowd burst into applause.

Moments later, Bowling delivered the kicker: “Just kidding. Just kidding. That was Barack Obama.”

The applause died down. Some giggles emerged.  A boo rang out.

The quote actually came from Obama’s commencement speech at Barnard College in 2012, as the former president discussed women’s education and empowerment.

“I just thought it was a really good quote,” Bowling told The Louisville Courier-Journal. “Most people wouldn’t like it if I used it, so I thought I’d use Donald Trump’s name. It is southeastern Kentucky after all.”

Trump won 82 percent of the vote in Bell County, where Pineville is located, during the 2016 election. At a campaign rally in Louisville, Trump promised to revive the coal industry. “Obama has decimated the coal industry, and we’re going to bring the coal industry back,” he said. “The coal industry is going to make a very big comeback.”

This isn’t the first time that politics have crept into high school graduation speeches. A Chicago-area eighth-grader went viral when he impersonated the 2016 candidates in his commencement speech that year. And valedictorian Peter Butera went rogue last year at his Pennsylvania commencement, boldly criticizing the school’s administration until his microphone was cut off.

Bowling holds a 4.2 GPA at Bell County High, according to the Courier-Journal, and plans to attend the University of Kentucky on a full scholarship to study biology and medicine. But he could also consider a career in comedy—the stunt he pulled is not his first stab at humor. Bowling’s Twitter account, which was made private today, contains wisecracks like “Someone needs to inform the local rabbit community that the time to cross a road is not when there is an oncoming car,” or “Why be a boy scout when you can just throw your headphones in your pocket and discover every knot known to mankind.”