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Top 10 Surprising Facts About US Presidents

VO: Rebecca Brayton
Script written by Sean Harris The following unexpected truths would have even Uncle Sam eating his hat! Join us at as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Surprising Facts About U.S. Presidents! For this list, we've rounded up the most surprising, lesser-known facts about America's Commanders in Chief throughout the decades! And, as always, only one entry per president! Special thanks to our user akt for submitting the idea on our Interactive Suggestion Tool at WatchMojo.comsuggest

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Script written by Sean Harris

Top 10 Surprising Facts About US Presidents

The following unexpected truths would have even Uncle Sam eating his hat! Join us at as we count down our picks for the Top 10 Surprising Facts About U.S. Presidents!
For this list, we’ve rounded up the most surprising, lesser-known facts about America’s Commanders in Chief throughout the decades! And, as always, only one entry per president!

#10: Theodore Roosevelt Was America’s First Brown Belt in Judo

We start with probably the single-most surprising president of them all! Theodore Roosevelt a) wore a lock of Abraham Lincoln’s hair mounted into a ring at his inauguration; b) is the inspiration behind the ‘Teddy Bear’; and c) was the first American to win the Nobel Peace Prize. The last of that list is more than a little ironic, considering what we’ve chosen as our top Teddy fact… Roosevelt was also the first ever American brown belt in Judo! We’re betting those skills came in handy with some world leaders!

#9: Grover Cleveland Served as an Executioner Before He Became President

The only president in American history to serve two non-consecutive terms, Grover Cleveland started out his prestigious political career as Sheriff of Erie County. During his time in the role, Cleveland also held responsibilities as public executioner… It fell within his duties to either perform executions himself, or else pay a deputy to do so… Cleveland opted for the latter on two occasions, and personally executed two convicted murderers by hanging, Patrick Morrissey and John Gaffney.

#8: Bill Clinton Lost the Codes to Enable Nuclear Warhead Activation

When you’re President, you have to remember lots of important things… Never wear an un-pressed shirt, always floss, and never – and we mean never – lose the nuclear detonation codes! Bill Clinton was brilliant at the first two! Buut, not so good at the third! ‘The Football’ is a briefcase kept close to the President, from which a nuclear attack can be launched at any time… ‘The Biscuit’ is a small card bearing top-secret codes for that briefcase… Aaand, on the morning after the Monica Lewinsky scandal, Clinton actually lost the biscuit!

#7: William Taft Had a Custom-Made Bath Installed in the White House

U.S. Presidents come in all shapes and sizes, and William Taft was… A little larger than the average! He was so large in fact; he couldn’t fit his 300+ pounds in the conventional White House bathtub! The White House rumor is that Taft actually got stuck once while bathing… But, at the very least, he did invest in a purpose-built, larger tub! Large enough to comfortably fit four men of smaller proportions! Luckily, Taft lost considerable weight post-presidency, got healthier, and probably had room for a rubber duck or two!

#6: Abraham Lincoln Attended Séances in the White House

When our next President wasn’t abolishing the Slave Trade, he was attending to the spirits, within the White House itself! Abraham Lincoln’s life was shadowed in sorrow and in seriousness… Following the death of his son Willie in particular, Lincoln longed to communicate with the ‘other side’, and he and his wife regularly entertained well-known spiritualists… On more than one occasion Lincoln was also afforded some form of prophetic ability, to the point where he foresaw his own assassination in a dream! As spooky as it is, Honest Abe might’ve been psychic!

#5: George Bush Sr. Is the Unenviable Inspiration Behind a Japanese Word

From the supernatural, to the super embarrassing! In 1992, toward the end of a trading tour in Asia, George H. W. Bush was attending a state dinner, held at the home of the Japanese Prime Minister… All was going well, but then Bush wasn’t feeling well! And then he vomited. And then he fainted. A star spangled stumble and then some (!), it’s been magnificently memorialised in Japan itself, where there’s now a word for public vomiting that literally translates as ‘to do the Bush thing’! Bushu-suru, Mojoholics, Bushu-suru!

#4: George W. Bush Was a Cheerleader in High School

A lot of people can likely think of a lot of words to describe George W. Bush, but ‘coordinated’ probably isn’t one of them! And yet, at high school and in university, George W. was decidedly coordinated! Being not too gifted at conventionally masculine pastimes, Bush got his bit of sports field glory by becoming head cheerleader! He has even been pictured in full skirt and wig pom-pom attire, while on stage mocking a rival school! What can we say but, ‘Goooo Bush!’ Ahem!

#3: Gerald Ford Was Once a Fashion Model

OK, so the image of George Bush cheerleading isn’t entirely attractive… But, in Gerald Ford, we have at least one president who was good looking! Pre-presidency, Ford had an all-American charm about him which landed him both the opportunity to play professional football, and also the odd modelling gig. Boyishly good looking, Ford even found himself on the front cover of Cosmopolitan on one occasion! This guy was destined for the runway; it just wasn’t always gonna be aboard Air Force One!

#2: Lyndon Johnson Was Well-Endowed

It may be runner-up, but this one’s clearly our biggest surprise! Strangely enough, there’s no official record detailing the dimensions of the presidential downstairs regions, but if there was then Lyndon Johnson would probably top it! But Johnson wasn’t just endowed down there; he really knew he was endowed down there! Here’s a guy who named his little guy ‘Jumbo’! And ordered tailored suits with extra room for movement! And ordered a special shower nozzle be installed, solely to rinse off the appendage! His ego was enormous, but so were his underpants!

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions.
- Theodore Roosevelt’s Mother and First Wife Both Died on the Same Valentine’s Day
- Barack Obama Collects Comics
- John Adams Named His Dog Satan
- Ronald Reagan Regularly Consulted an Astrologer
- John Quincy Adams Skinny-Dipped in the Potomac River Most Mornings

#1: Andrew Jackson Killed a Man in a Duel

Plenty of presidents are indirectly responsible for ending other people’s lives; international conflict makes that an unfortunate inevitability. And, we’ve seen how Grover Cleveland played lawful executioner… But seventh President, Andrew Jackson, actually killed someone outright! Before he took the top job, Jackson was notoriously violent, and often inclined to traditionally duel with his enemies. Jackson shot one such enemy, Charles Dickinson, as Jackson attempted to defend his wife’s honor - he was subsequently outcast as a dishonorable man. It’s a miracle he ever made it to the White House at all!

Do you agree with our list? Which surprising fact did we forget? For more crazy-but-true top 10s published daily, be sure to subscribe to

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