Hulk Hogan's Presidential Candidacy Gimmick Extended From The Ring To Late Night TV

As the sound of presidential music played over the arena speakers, a puzzled hush fell upon the live crowd at Nassau County Memorial Coliseum on the night of November 9, 1998. Flanked by "Secret Service" agents, "Hollywood" Hulk Hogan made his way to the ring through a sea of patriotic-themed confetti and balloons raining from the arena ceiling to make a big announcement on "WCW Nitro."

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With a giant American Flag in the background and "Mean" Gene Okerlund holding the microphone, Hogan announced Eric Bischoff as his campaign manager and declared his candidacy for the 2000 U.S. presidential election. "If I can get America behind me, just like Minnesota got behind Jesse (Ventura), we shall turn the page, we shall give America a brand new start," he said. "And Hollywood, and all my people that love America, shall take us into the new millennium on a brand new start. I am here not only to serve but to protect my country."

When asked by Okerlund what party would he be representing, Hogan pointed out himself and Bischoff were in "heavy negotiations and strategic meetings" to form their campaign force and would "rock the world just like Jesse did."

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Hogan's announcement on the Tonight Show

On November 26, Hogan appeared as a guest on the Thanksgiving edition of "The Tonight Show with Jay Leno" and made another announcement that shocked the studio audience. "I had to come to the crossroads here," he said. "I've accomplished everything I wanted to do in wrestling. My family is secure. I've had a great career. I wanted to come on your show tonight and officially announce my retirement." As a confused Leno tried to make sense of this, Hogan continued, "All good things must come to an end. I had a great career. The fans have been great. I love you guys and thanks for sticking with me. And this really helps me segue into being the next president of the United States."

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Again referencing Ventura's gubernatorial win in Minnesota as inspiration for his decision, Hogan believed his business dealings and decisions throughout his career readied him for the responsibilities of the Oval Office; and if elected, he would not only put America first but would institute a flat tax, which got a cheer from the audience. Hogan stated he would be choosing his running mate over the next few weeks and ended the interview saying, "we are going to get back on track in the year 2000."

However, the retirement (and campaign) didn't last long. Hogan was back on "WCW Nitro" a month later for the infamous "Finger Poke of Doom," where he pinned Kevin Nash to become WCW World Champion.

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