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Ventura Scholars

World Wrestling Federation officials may have been trying to capitalize on Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura's brawny image when they invited him to referee a highly publicized event last summer. But the professional wrestler turned politician apparently had more scholarly intentions when he accepted a $100,000 fee for his officiating gig.

The Reform Party governor—who sought to abandon his nickname "The Body" for a new image as "The Mind" during his 1998 election campaign—announced last month that he had donated half the money to start a scholarship fund at Roosevelt High School in Minneapolis. Mr. Ventura graduated from the school in 1969.

The Ventura Scholars program will provide a $5,000 scholarship each year to a senior who has demonstrated academic success and promise for the future, but has few resources for higher education.

"This is my way of giving back," Gov. Ventura said in a statement. "I'm hoping this money may help a deserving student who might have otherwise fallen through the cracks."

The other half of the money was donated to the Jade Foundation, an organization named after the governor's daughter that supports special education programs.

Mr. Ventura reportedly received up to $1 million in royalties from videotape sales and the use of his name to promote the event. The governor's office would not confirm those reports.

The governor, who served six years in the U.S. Navy, attended community college but did not earn a degree.

—Kathleen Kennedy Manzo

Vol. 19, Issue 21, Page 16

Published in Print: February 2, 2000, as State Journal

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