“I thought, this must be a setup.”
(Pete Souza/White House Archives)
Even “The Most Interesting Man In The World” needs someone to look up to. And you can’t do much better than Barack Obama.
In a delightful story that would fit right in during one of his legendary Dos Equis beer commercials; the actor who played the iconic TV pitchman writes in Politico about how he struck up an unlikely friendship with President Obama.
The two men first met back in August 2011 when Jonathan Goldsmith, aka “The World’s Most Interesting Man,” was attending a fundraiser in Vermont for Obama’s 2012 re-election campaign.
The two immediately hit it off, as it turned out Obama was a huge fan of the commercials, quoting some of Goldsmith’s most famous lines like, “Stay thirsty, my friends.”
Months later, Goldsmith got a secret invite from the White House—to attend President Obama’s elaborate 50th birthday party weekend.
“There’s no way he could have been as happy and amazed as I was to be there,” Goldsmith wrote.
“I thought, this must be a setup. Someone has to be playing a joke on me, and they had prompted him with information. But when Obama mentioned that he loved a New Yorker article about me and quoted from the commercials, I knew he was being sincere. I drove home feeling as if it was a dream. The president of the United States is interested in me, the imaginary most interesting man in the world.”
Friends of Obama had invited Goldsmith as a surprise birthday present for the president.
But what was probably meant to be nothing more than an endearing gag, turned into a weekend where the two men struck up a friendship that continues to this day. For the surprise, Obama’s team had Goldsmith show up during a trip to an archery course. Much like his fictional character, Goldsmith landed several arrows, prompting a comment from Obama, “Damn, this guy’s good.”
(Pete Souza/White House)
When Goldsmith finally revealed himself, Obama reportedly burst into laughter. By the end of the weekend, the two men were sharing a table and insider stories about the presidency.
Later in the piece, Goldsmith tells the equally cool history of how he first landed the Dos Equis gig. After a long career in Hollywood, he had retired. Along the way, Goldsmith had successfully launched a $150 million marketing company. But that went belly up, leaving the Gunsmoke veteran practically homeless, living in a camper tied to the back of his 1960s pickup truck. Needless to say, it was an incredible turnaround to becoming a nearly universally recognized face on TV and one that would become admired by the most powerful person in the world.
For the rest of us, the incredibly humble Goldsmith offers a bit of parting advice:
As I approach my eighth decade, with more fans and adulation than I could ever deserve, I can say with certainty that to be interesting you have to be interested. You can watch the parade that is life—and live vicariously through others, as many do—or you can get in and participate in your own journey. And the best time to go for broke is when you’re already there.