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|Co-chair of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports|
2019–2020Serving with Misty May-Treanor and Mariano Rivera
|Preceded by||Dominique Dawes|
|Succeeded by||Elena Delle Donne|
|Born||Herschel Junior Walker|
March 3, 1962 (age 60)
Augusta, Georgia, U.S.
|Spouse(s)||Cindy DeAngelis Grossman(m. 1983; div. 2002)|
Julie Blanchard (m. 2021)
|Height:||6 ft 1 in (1.85 m)|
|Weight:||225 lb (102 kg)|
|High school:||Johnson County|
|NFL Draft:||1985 / Round: 5 / Pick: 114|
|New Jersey Generals (1983–1985)Dallas Cowboys (1986–1989)Minnesota Vikings (1989–1991)Philadelphia Eagles (1992–1994)New York Giants (1995)Dallas Cowboys (1996–1997)|
|Career highlights and awards|
|2× Second-team All-Pro (1987, 1988)2× Pro Bowl (1987, 1988)National champion (1980)Heisman Trophy (1982)Maxwell Award (1982)Walter Camp Award (1982)UPI Player of the Year (1982)3× SEC Player of the Year (1980–1982)3× Unanimous All-American (1980–1982)3× First-team All-SEC (1980–1982)Georgia Bulldogs No. 34 retired|
|Career NFL statistics|
|Rushing yards:8,225Rushing average:4.2Rushing touchdowns:61Receptions:512Receiving yards:4,859Receiving touchdowns:21|
|Player stats at NFL.com · PFR|
|College Football Hall of Fame|
Herschel Junior Walker (born March 3, 1962) is an American politician and former football running back who played in the National Football League (NFL) for 12 seasons. He is the Republican nominee in the 2022 United States Senate election in Georgia.
Walker played college football at the University of Georgia, where he won the Heisman Trophy as a junior in 1982. In 1986, Walker joined the NFL with the Dallas Cowboys, earning consecutive Pro Bowl and second-team All-Pro honors from 1987 to 1988. In 1989, Walker was traded to the Minnesota Vikings. He was later a member of the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants before concluding his career with a second stint on the Cowboys. Walker was inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame in 1999.
From 2019 to 2020, he served as a co-chair on the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition under President Donald Trump. Walker will face incumbent Democratic Senator Raphael Warnock in the November 2022 general election.
- 1Early life
- 2College career
- 3Professional career
- 4Career statistics
- 5Other athletic and competitive activities
- 6Business activities
- 7Political activities
- 8Political positions
- 9Personal life
- 10Awards and honors
- 11See also
- 14External links
Walker was born in Augusta, Georgia, to Willis and Christine Walker. He was raised in Wrightsville, Georgia. He was one of seven children. Walker said that as a child he was overweight and had a stutter.
Walker has repeatedly claimed his maternal grandmother was Cherokee, and has ethnically identified as Native American and Black. The Cherokee Nation tribe said they have no record of Walker in their database. He said he took a 23andMe ancestry test to prove the claim, but did not publicly release the results.
High school career
Walker attended Johnson County High School in Wrightsville, where he played football, basketball, and competed in track. He played for the Johnson County Trojans high school football team from 1976 to 1979. In his senior year, he rushed for 3,167 yards, helping the Trojans win their first state championship. He was awarded the inaugural Dial Award as 1979 national high school scholar-athlete of the year.
Walker was selected as Athlete-Scholar delegate by the American Academy of Achievement in June 1980 and received the academy’s Golden Plate Award from Council member Coach Tom Landry at a ceremony in 1981.
On July 4, 2017, during Wrightsville’s annual Fourth of July celebration and parade, Trojan Way, the street where Johnson County High School resides, was officially renamed Herschel Walker Drive
In his 2008 autobiography, Walker wrote that during his stint in Johnson County High School, he was the Beta Club president (which required average “A” grades) and class valedictorian. In December 2021, Walker’s Senate campaign website claimed that he graduated as the valedictorian of the entire high school, but CNN found no evidence for this claim. The claim on Walker’s website was later removed and amended to state that Walker graduated high school “top of his class”.
Track and field
Walker competed on the Trojans track and field team in events ranging from the 100-yard dash to the shot put. He won the shot put (16.56m/54ft 4in), 100-yard dash (9.5s), and 220-yard dash (21.5s) events at the GHSA Class A State T&F Championships. He also anchored the 4×400 team to victory, with a time of 3:24.01 minutes.
Walker was All-American in 1981 on the 4 × 100 m relay and again in 1982 in the indoor 60-yard dash. He was a member of the SEC champion 4 × 100 m relay squad in 1981. He ran the 100 meters in a personal record of 10.23 seconds in 1982 and 10.10 seconds wind-assisted. He improved his high school 100-yard dash time of 9.5 to 9.3 seconds.
Starting in 2017, Walker has made the claim that he had graduated from University of Georgia “in the top 1% of his class”. In fact, he did not graduate, and left college to join the NFL. He did not return to complete his degree. In December 2021, Walker’s senate campaign website deleted the assertions about his education after The Atlanta Journal-Constitution inquired about it, with Walker acknowledging in a statement that he left the university without graduating to play professional football. Walker later asserted that he never said he graduated from the university.
Walker played running back and ran on the track and field team for the University of Georgia, where he was a three-time All-American (football and track) and winner of the 1982 Heisman Trophy and Maxwell Award. He is the first NCAA player who played only three years to finish in the top 10 in rushing yards, a mark later tied by Jonathan Taylor. During his freshman season in 1980, Walker set the NCAA freshman rushing record (later broken by Taylor) and finished third in Heisman voting. Walker was the first “true freshman” to become a first-team All-American.
A 1981 New York Times Magazine article described Walker as a “loner” who tended to sleep “only a few hours a night since junior high” and said his college diet “consisted of Snickers candy bars, hamburgers and Gatorade.”
He played a major role in helping Georgia win the national championship against Notre Dame in the 1981 Sugar Bowl.
Walker, listed as a 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 222 lb (101 kg) running back, was the most sought after high school football player in the nation and signed a national letter of intent to play for the University of Georgia Bulldogs on Easter Sunday, April 6, 1980. Mike Cavan helped provide head coach Vince Dooley with his prized recruit.: 73–89
The season began with sophomore Carnie Norris starting ahead of Walker at tailback as the Bulldogs faced the University of Tennessee on September 6 in Knoxville. With Tennessee gaining a 9–0 lead early in the 2nd quarter, coach Dooley told his offensive coordinator, “I’m putting Herschel in…Don’t be afraid to let him carry the ball.”
Tennessee held a 15–2 advantage late in the third quarter when Walker changed the momentum of the game. Late in the third quarter, Walker scored on a counter from 16 yards out, where he ran over safety and future Dallas Cowboys teammate Bill Bates near the goal line. Walker scored again five minutes later on a 9-yard touchdown run as Georgia went on to win the game, 16–15.: 73–89
Georgia faced Texas A&M at home and Walker finished with 21 carries for 145 yards and 3 touchdowns. Quarterback Buck Belue complemented Walker’s ground game by going 6 of 13 for 147 passing yards during the contest.: 203 The Bulldogs had a 28–0 lead by halftime. With four minutes left in the third quarter, Walker broke off a 76-yard touchdown run.
Georgia raced to a 6–0 start by knocking off Clemson (20–16), TCU (34–3), Ole Miss (28–21), and Vanderbilt (41–0). Walker ran for 121 yards against Clemson and 69 more versus TCU—including a 41-yard run. He missed much of the Ole Miss game with an injury. In the Vandy game on October 18, Walker had 23 rushes for a career-high 283 yards, scoring on long touchdown runs of 80, 48, and 53 yards.: 204–07 The special teams and defense gave Georgia an advantage and helped the Bulldogs get past Kentucky (27–0) and South Carolina (13–10). The win in Athens, Georgia over South Carolina on November 1 featured Walker and the Gamecock’s soon-to-be 1980 Heisman Trophy winner, George Rogers. Walker rushed 43 times for 219 yards, while Rogers had 168 yards on 35 carries.: 209 Georgia had a 10–0 lead after a 76-yard touchdown run by Walker. By the 3rd quarter, the Bulldogs were up 13–0 and held on to beat the Gamecocks 13–10.
Walker carried Georgia’s offense, rushing 37 times for 238 yards against the Gators.: 114–59, 210 He started things off 1st quarter by taking a toss sweep to the right and running 72 yards for Georgia’s first touchdown. Georgia extended its lead to 20–10 late in the 3rd quarter before Florida began to mount its comeback.
Georgia clinched the SEC Championship on November 15 by taking out Auburn on the road, 31–21. Walker did most of the work by rushing 27 times for 84 yards, including an 18-yard touchdown. Two weeks later, Walker ended the regular season with an exclamation point by scoring on touchdown runs of 1, 23, and 65 yards as Georgia defeated in-state rival Georgia Tech, 38–20. Walker rushed 25 times for 205 yards.
The Bulldogs were ranked No. 1 at 11–0 as they were invited to play a traditional football power, coach Dan Devine‘s Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9–1–1) in the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans, La. on January 1, 1981.: 160–69, 211–12 Walker, who suffered a dislocated left shoulder very early in the game, managed to rush 36 times for 150 yards, including a longest run of 23 yards.: 170–90, 213 With the score tied 3–3, Notre Dame failed to properly field a kickoff. Two plays later, Walker dove over the top for a 1-yard touchdown run to give UGA a 10–3 lead. Notre Dame fumbled and set Georgia up at the Irish 22-yard line. Three plays later, Walker was in the end zone again for a 17–3 lead. Georgia held on to win, 17–10.: 170–90
At the season’s conclusion, Walker helped his Georgia Bulldogs complete a 12–0 record as the Associated Press voted the University of Georgia No. 1 with 58½ first-place votes to Pittsburgh’s 3½. Walker and his teammates were also voted No. 1 by the United Press International Poll—which listed Georgia with 36 first-place votes to Pitt’s three.: 190, 201
The momentum of the 1980 season continued into September 1981 for the Georgia Bulldogs as Walker and company took control early in the season by scoring early and often in wins against Tennessee (44–0) and the Cal Golden Bears (27–13). Against the Volunteers, Walker rushed for 161 yards on 30 carries. Walker rushed 35 times for 167 yards on September 12 against California.
Even though Walker was able to push, shove, and get through Clemson’s defense by rushing 28 times for 111 yards, it wasn’t enough to overcome 9 turnovers (including 2 by Walker) by the Bulldogs in the loss to the Tigers. Georgia rebounded by blanking South Carolina, 24–0, on September 26 as the sophomore Walker ran for 176 yards on 36 carries. Georgia led just 3–0 at the half, and Walker opened things up for the Bulldogs in the third quarter by scoring on touchdown runs of 3 and 8 yards to put the Gamecocks away.
The Bulldogs defeated Ole Miss (37–7), Vanderbilt (53–21), Kentucky (21–0), and Temple (49–3). Walker rushed for a season-high 265 yards on 41 attempts and a touchdown against Ole Miss on October 10. A week later, Walker rushed 39 times for 188 yards and 2 touchdowns versus Vanderbilt. Against Temple, he scored a career-high 4 touchdowns while rushing 23 times for 112 yards.
On November 7, seventh-ranked Georgia and Walker got behind, 14–0 in Jacksonville, to the Florida Gators, but came back to win in a repeat score of last season’s game, 26–21. Walker rushed a career-high 47 times for 192 yards while scoring four touchdowns. The Bulldogs finished out the regular season at home against nearby rivals: the Auburn Tigers (November 14) and the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (December 5). The 24–13 win over coach Pat Dye‘s Tigers clinched another SEC championship. Walker pounded out 165 yards on 37 rushes during the contest. In the third quarter, Walker’s 2-yard touchdown run gave the Bulldogs a commanding 24–7 lead. Against Georgia Tech, Walker finished with 36 rushes for 225 yards and 4 touchdowns in a 44–7 win.
Riding an 8-game winning streak, Georgia (10–1) was ranked No. 2 in the country when they faced Pittsburgh (also 10–1, ranked No. 10) in the 1982 Sugar Bowl. The Bulldogs lost, 20–24. Walker finished with 25 rushes for 84 yards and led UGA in receptions with 3 catches for 53 yards. He bolted 8 yards for a touchdown in the 2nd quarter giving Georgia a 7–0 lead. After a 30-yard, Dan Marino touchdown pass lifted Pitt to a 10–7 lead in the third quarter, Walker answered, scoring from 10 yards out to give Georgia a 14–10 lead going into the 4th quarter. With Georgia’s 20–17 lead late in the game, Marino found Pittsburgh’s receiver John Brown for a 33-yard touchdown pass with 0:35 left in the game.
With the season opener against defending national champion Clemson, the Bulldogs received bad news when Walker suffered a fractured right thumb in practice on August 21, 1982. He was expected to be out of action for 3–6 weeks. When the two teams met on September 6, Walker wore a bulky, padded cast on his right thumb. In this tight game, Walker was used primarily as a decoy and rushed 11 times for 20 yards. The Georgia defense limited the Tigers to 249 total yards of offense as the Bulldogs prevailed, 13–7.
Georgia faced Brigham Young at home on September 9. Walker, coming back from the thumb injury, rushed 31 times for 124 yards against the Cougars. BYU’s Steve Young connected with Scott Collie on a 21-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter to give Brigham Young a 14–7 lead going into the final period. However, Walker rallied the Bulldogs as he led them on two scoring drives that gave Georgia the win, 17–14. He scored on a 1-yard touchdown run late to tie the game. Later still, Walker converted on a huge 4th-and-1 that enabled Georgia kicker Kevin Butler to make a 44-yard field goal in the game’s closing seconds. Walker’s drive of 40 yards to set up Butler’s kick covered three minutes in all, and was keyed by his 23-yard breakaway run.
Walker had 32 rushes, 143 yards, and 1 touchdown against the Gamecocks while wearing his cast.
In October, Georgia faced Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, and Memphis State. The Bulldogs slipped past Mississippi St., 29–22, as Walker rushed 39 times for 215 yards and a touchdown. Next, Georgia overwhelmed Ole Miss, 33–10, as Walker rushed 24 times for 149 yards and 3 touchdowns. On October 16, Georgia got past Vanderbilt 27–13. Against the Commodores, Walker ran for 172 yards and a touchdown on 38 carries.
Georgia finished October by knocking off Kentucky (27–14) and Florida State (34–3) to push its record to 8–0 going into the Florida game in Jacksonville. Walker maintained a heavy load, rushing 34 times against Kentucky for 152 yards. The Wildcats led 10–3 in the second quarter when Walker raced 64 yards to paydirt on a screen pass, cutting the deficit to 14–10. Walker finished with 79 receiving yards on 3 catches. In Georgia’s matchup with Memphis St., Walker shattered the SEC career scoring record as his third-ranked Bulldogs swept past the Tigers by 31 points. He ran for a season-high 219 yards on 33 carries and 2 touchdowns, extending Memphis St.’s losing streak to 15 games.
In November, Georgia got past Florida, Auburn, and Georgia Tech to complete a perfect 11–0 regular season, and were the No. 1 ranked team in the country. Walker defeated Florida by scoring three touchdowns in a 44–0 Georgia rout. He rushed 35 times for 219 yards during this shutout.
Georgia faced the Auburn Tigers on November 13 at Jordan–Hare Stadium in a slugfest. Walker scored on a 20-yard touchdown run within the 4th quarter to give UGA a 19–14 lead. Georgia hung on to win and Walker finished with 31 rushes for 177 yards, including a 47-yard run, and 2 touchdowns.
In the last regular-season game of Walker’s career at the University of Georgia, Georgia defeated the yellow jackets, 38–18. Walker broke five tackles and sprinted 59 yards for a score in the first quarter. The Bulldogs scored 17 points in the 3rd quarter which included a 1-yard touchdown run by Walker. He finished with 27 rushes for 162 yards. The victory pitted the No. 1 ranked Georgia Bulldogs against the No. 2 ranked Penn State Nittany Lions in the Sugar Bowl on January 1, 1983.
Walker led the way as Georgia wrapped up its third SEC Championship.
Walker scored one last time in his UGA career as he fell into the end zone from 1 yard out with 10:37 remaining in the third quarter. That touchdown cut the Penn State lead to three at 20–17. Penn State answered 21 seconds later as quarterback Todd Blackledge completed a 46-yard touchdown pass to wideout Gregg Garrity. Penn State held on to win 27–23, and won the national championship by a unanimous vote in both the AP and UPI polls. Walker rushed 28 times for 102 yards and caught a pass for 15 yards against the Mark Robinson-led PSU defense.
United States Football League
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Walker signed with the New Jersey Generals in 1983, owned by Oklahoma oil tycoon J. Walter Duncan, who after the 1983 season sold the team to Donald Trump. Walker attracted only one major promotional offer, a joint project of McDonald’s and Adidas.
The USFL had initially followed the NFL and banned underclassmen. However, league officials concluded the rule would never stand up in court, and discarded it. To circumvent the league’s $1.8-million salary cap, Walker signed a personal services contract with Duncan (later transferred to Trump). Similar arrangements were later made with other college stars. Although this move was challenged in court, Walker and the USFL prevailed.
Walker won the USFL rushing title in 1983 and 1985. Over the course of his USFL career, Walker had 5,562 yards rushing in 1,143 carries, averaging 4.87 yards. In 1983, he rushed for 1,812 yards in 18 games. In his second season, his rushing yardage dropped to 1,339, but he caught passes for more than 500 yards giving him over 1,800 yards in total offense.
In 1985, Walker, who ran for 2,411 yards, won the USFL rushing title by a margin of 1,050 yards over Mike Rozier (who had 1,361 yards), with Bill Johnson (1,261 yards) finishing third, and Gary Anderson and Kelvin Bryant finishing in a dead heat for fourth (with 1,207 yards each).
National Football League
Dallas Cowboys (first stint)
The Dallas Cowboys aware of Walker’s earlier interest in playing for them acquired Walker’s NFL rights by selecting him in the fifth round (114th overall) of the 1985 NFL Draft.
In 1986, he was signed by the Cowboys and moved to fullback, so he could share backfield duties with Tony Dorsett, becoming the second Heisman backfield tandem in NFL history, after George Rogers and Earl Campbell teamed with the 1984 New Orleans Saints. This move created tension, as it would limit Dorsett’s playing time, and because Walker’s $5 million five-year contract exceeded his $4.5 million five-year contract. Walker rushed for the game-winning touchdown with a minute to play in the 31–28 victory against the New York Giants in the season opener. In the week 15 game against the Philadelphia Eagles, he had a franchise-record 292 yards of total offense, including the NFL’s longest run of the year with an 84-yarder for a touchdown and an 84-yard touchdown reception.
In 1987, Walker complained to Cowboys management that he was being moved around between three different positions (running back, fullback, wide receiver) and that Dorsett had more carries. He would be the team’s main running back, playing in 12 games (11 starts), while registering 891 rushing yards, 715 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns. Dorsett played in 12 games (6 starts) and had two healthy DNP (Did Not Play), which would make him demand a trade that would send him to the Denver Broncos.
Walker established himself as an NFL running back in 1988, becoming a one-man offense, reaching his NFL career highs of 1,514 rushing yards and 505 receiving yards, while playing seven positions: halfback, fullback, tight end, H-back, wide receiver, both in the slot and as a flanker. He became just the 10th player in NFL history to amass more than 2,000 combined rushing and receiving yards in a season. In the process he achieved two consecutive Pro Bowls (1987 and 1988).
In 1989, the Cowboys traded Walker to the Minnesota Vikings for a total of five players (linebacker Jesse Solomon, defensive back Issiac Holt, running back Darrin Nelson, linebacker David Howard, defensive end Alex Stewart) and six future draft picks. The five players were tied to potential draft picks Minnesota would give Dallas if a player was cut (which led to Emmitt Smith, Russell Maryland, Kevin Smith, and Darren Woodson). This was claimed to be a turning point in the rise of the Cowboys to the NFL’s top echelon.
Walker’s trade to Minnesota was initially considered by many as supplying the Vikings with the “missing piece” for a Super Bowl run; however, over time, as the Cowboys’ fortunes soared and the Vikings’ waned, it became viewed as, perhaps, the most lopsided trade in NFL history. From the moment he arrived in Minneapolis, “Herschel Mania” erupted. After a single 2½ hour practice where he studied 12 offensive plays, Walker debuted against the Green Bay Packers.
He received three standing ovations from the record Metrodome crowd of 62,075, producing a Vikings win after four successive losses and 14 of the prior 18 games with the Packers. Scout.com says, “Walker was never used properly by the coaching brain trust.” “Herschel the Turkey”, a mock honor given out by the Star Tribune newspaper to inept Minnesota sports personalities, is named for him. Walker played for the Vikings for two and a half years.
After three seasons in Minnesota, the Philadelphia Eagles signed Walker in 1992 hoping he would be help them to reach the Super Bowl. That year, he enjoyed his best season as a pro since 1988, rushing for 1,070 yards. In 1994 he became the first NFL player to have one-play gains of 90 or more yards rushing, receiving and kick-returning in a single season. He spent three seasons in Philadelphia, leaving after the Eagles signed free agent Ricky Watters.
New York Giants
The New York Giants signed Walker in 1995 to a three-year contract worth $4.8 million as a third-down back. Walker led the Giants with 45 kick returns at 21.5 yards per return in 1995, his only season with the team.
Dallas Cowboys (second stint)
In 1996, he rejoined the Dallas Cowboys as a kickoff return specialist and third-down back. He also played fullback, but primarily as a ball-handler instead of a blocker out of I-Form and pro-sets. Walker retired at the end of the 1997 season.
|USFL career stats|
|New Jersey Generals|
|NFL career stats|
Other athletic and competitive activities
In 1988, while a member of the Dallas Cowboys, he danced with the Fort Worth Ballet for a single performance. He won back-to-back American Superstars competitions in 1987 and 1988.
In 1992, Walker competed in the Winter Olympics in Albertville, France, as a member of the United States’ bobsleigh team. Originally selected for the four-man team, he eventually competed as the brakeman (or pusher) in the two-man competition. Walker and his teammate Brian Shimer placed seventh.
In November 2007, Walker appeared on the HDNet show Inside MMA as a guest. He indicated he would take part in a mixed martial arts reality show in the near future (along with José Canseco) and that he would have an official MMA fight at the conclusion of the show. In September 2009, it was announced that Walker had been signed by MMA promotion company Strikeforce to compete in their heavyweight division at the age of 47.
He began a 12-week training camp with trainer “Crazy” Bob Cook at the American Kickboxing Academy in October 2009 in San Jose, California. In his MMA debut on January 30, 2010, Walker defeated Greg Nagy via technical knock-out due to strikes at Strikeforce: Miami.
In 2009, Walker was a contestant in the second season of the reality television show The Celebrity Apprentice. Although he owns a food-service company, he was fired during the 8th episode for failing as Project Manager on a task to create a new meal for Schwan’s LiveSmart frozen-food line.
In 2010, Walker reportedly ate only one meal a day (skipping breakfast and lunch); described himself as a vegetarian and said that he ate salad and bread for dinner; and reported a daily fitness regimen of 750 to 1,500 push-ups and 2,000 sit-ups.
Strikeforce confirmed that Walker would face former WEC fighter Scott Carson when he made his second appearance in the Strikeforce cage. Walker was forced off the Strikeforce card on December 4 due to a cut suffered in training that required seven stitches. They fought instead on January 29, 2011, and Walker defeated Carson via TKO (strikes) at 3:13 of round 1.
In 2014, Walker won season 3 of Rachael vs. Guy: Celebrity Cook-Off.
Walker has a fifth-degree black belt in taekwondo.
In 1984, Walker franchised a D’Lites fast food restaurant in Athens, Georgia.
In 1999, Walker created Renaissance Man Food Services, which distributes chicken products. Originally, his producer was Sysco Corp. following a casual conversation with a Sysco vice president who asked him to provide some chicken-breading recipes from his mother. He founded Savannah-based H. Walker Enterprises in 2002 as an umbrella company for most of his other business ventures, the largest of which was Renaissance Man Food Services.
Walker has a history of exaggerating the number of people employed by and the assets of his companies; the failure of several business enterprises led to creditors bringing lawsuits. Walker touted Renaissance Man Food Services as one of the largest minority-owned meat processors in the nation, with $70 million in annual sales. In subsequent deposition testimony in a lawsuit, however, Walker gave far lower figures, saying that his company averaged about $1.5 million in annual profits from 2008 and 2017.
Walker has touted Renaissance Man Food Services as a “mini-Tyson Foods“, and also said that the company controlled multiple chicken processing plants. However, in a 2018 declaration submitted in a legal case against his company, Walker acknowledged that the company did not actually own any chicken processing plants and instead partnered with plant owners to sell branded chicken products. Walker’s business associates later testified that Walker licensed his name to the chicken-related enterprise.
In 2009, Walker told the media that Renaissance Man Food Services had over 100 employees. In 2018, Walker told the media that Renaissance Man Food Services had “over 600 employees.” In 2020, Renaissance Man Food Services informed the U.S. government that it had eight employees. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution suggested that Walker’s overestimate of employees could “refer to chicken processing jobs, which are not actually part of Walker’s business”.
In April 2020, Renaissance Man Food Services applied for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan due to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the company ultimately received two PPP loans totaling $180,000 (of which $111,300 was forgiven). On Twitter in April 2020, Walker mocked “big companies” that received PPP money, suggesting that they were “giving back” the money due to being “ashamed”. This was despite Walker being a board member of the Sotherly Hotel Group, owner of the Georgian Terrace Hotel and other hotels; the group received over $9 million of PPP loans in April 2020 while firing 90% of its hotel staff, according to company documents submitted to the U.S. government. According to government records, Walker was paid $247,227 in total from Sotherly from 2016 to 2021.
Walker said that “part of its corporate charter” was to donate 15% of profits to charites. However, none of the four charities that Walker named as beneficiaries confirmed they actually received any donations.
Walker’s official portrait as a co-chair of the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness and Nutrition.
In 2014, Walker appeared in a commercial paid for by the United States Chamber of Commerce supporting Jack Kingston‘s bid in the Republican primary election for the 2014 U.S. Senate election in Georgia. In 2018, Walker endorsed Republican Brian Kemp in the 2018 Georgia gubernatorial election.
Walker supported Donald Trump in the 2016 and 2020 presidential elections, and spoke on Trump’s behalf at the 2020 Republican National Convention. In 2018, Trump appointed Walker to the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition, a special Government employee position; Trump reappointed him to another two year-term on December 17, 2020. In 2020, Walker endorsed U.S. Senator Kelly Loeffler, serving as an honorary co-chair of her campaign.
2022 US Senate election in Georgia
See also: 2022 United States Senate election in Georgia
In 2021, Trump encouraged Walker to run for the U.S. Senate in Georgia. Walker, a Texas resident, needed to re-establish residency in Georgia to do so. Walker’s contemplation of entering the race “froze” the Republican field because other prospective candidates for the nomination waited for his decision. In July 2021, Fox News reported that some Georgia Republicans were not sure how effective a candidate Walker would be, citing the fact that his positions on issues of importance to Republican voters were unknown.
In August 2021, Walker announced his run for the Senate seat held by Democrat Raphael Warnock. Despite an ambiguous business career and multiple past allegations of domestic violence, Walker began his campaign with high favorability ratings and support from self-identified moderate Republicans, and, in October 2021, was endorsed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in a sign that the Republican establishment was lining up behind him.
In March 2022, President Biden asked Walker, as well as Mehmet Oz, to resign from their posts on the President’s Council on Sports, Fitness, and Nutrition or be terminated. A White House official said the Biden administration does not allow federal candidates to serve on presidential boards.
In June 2022, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution found Walker’s claims about working in law enforcement were either false or unverifiable. Walker has been named as an honorary deputy sheriff in Cobb County and Johnson County. In 2019, Walker said he “spent time at Quantico at the FBI training school” and was “an agent” when, in reality, Walker lacked the bachelor’s degree required for FBI training. Previously, in 1989, Walker told the media that he “had fun” while attending an FBI school in Quantico for a week, speaking of an “obstacle course and you shoot at targets”.
Many of Walker’s statements on the campaign trail have been described as “gaffes” or “head-scratching at best”. In an editorial for CNN, Chris Cilizza described Walker as a “walking gaffe machine”, in which he disputed several statements Walker had made.
On October 5, 2022, Walker fired Taylor Crowe, his campaign political director, over suspicions that he leaked information to the media.
On October 14, 2022, Walker and his Democratic challenger, Raphael Warnock, faced off in their first and likely only debate for the Senate election. The New York Times described Walker’s demeanor throughout the debate as “aggressive and persistent,” with his frequent interruptions of Warnock and mocking of him for dodging questions. Walker repeatedly tried to link Warnock with President Joe Biden, who carries a low approval rating. During a portion of the debate focusing on crime, Walker revealed what appeared to be a law enforcement badge[a] to illustrate his closeness to law enforcement; the move was admonished by the moderators since props were not allowed for the debate. Walker overperformed what many[quantify] Democrats and pundits[who?] were expecting[vague], and The Hill wrote Walker won a “moral victory” by avoiding disaster and embarrassment.
In May 2022, Walker stated he opposes abortion, and wants no exceptions to abortion bans. He also called for more money to promote adoption and to support single parents. “You never know what a child is going to become. And I’ve seen some people, they’ve had some tough times, but I always said, ‘No matter what, tough times make tough people.'” When asked about the impact of the issue on the November 2022 election, Walker described abortion rights as among the “things that people are not concerned about”. In September 2022, Walker endorsed legislation proposed by Senator Lindsey Graham that would ban abortion except for rape, incest, and the life of the patient after 15 weeks of pregnancy nationwide. During his October debate with Raphael Warnock, Walker softened his position on abortion, saying he supported the Georgia law allowing exceptions for rape and the mother’s life and health.
School shootings and gun control
In the aftermath of the Robb Elementary School shooting that resulted in the deaths of 19 children and two teachers, Walker was asked about his position on solutions to school shootings. Walker replied, “Cain killed Abel. You know, and that’s a problem that we have. And I say what we need to do is look into how we can stop those things”. Walker then said that he supported “a department that can look at young men that’s looking at women that’s looking at social media”. Walker supports increased government spending on mental health care as a partial solution to gun violence. When asked about his position on gun control legislation, he replied “what I like to do is see it and everything and stuff.”
2020 presidential election
After Joe Biden won the 2020 presidential election, Walker tweeted a video supporting Trump’s efforts to overturn the election results. Walker has spread many conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election. Walker claimed that Biden “didn’t get 50 million” votes; Biden indeed received over 80 million votes. Walker alleged that there was “country-wide election fraud” without any evidence and urged Trump and “true patriots” to carry out “a total cleansing” to “prosecute all the bad actors”. He urged re-votes in the states of Arizona, Georgia, Michigan, Nevada, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Walker also spread a conspiracy theory about the 2021 United States Capitol attack, suggesting that it was a “well-planned” distraction from election fraud. The event was actually orchestrated by Trump supporters.
When asked whether Joe Biden had fairly defeated Donald Trump in Georgia, Walker replied, “I have no clue”. In the October debate with Warnock, when asked if Joe Biden was the winner of the 2020 election, Walker stated, “President Biden won and Raphael Warnock won.”
When asked about the Green New Deal environmental program, Walker said that he opposed it because “Since we don’t control the air, our good air decided to float over to China’s bad air, so when China gets our good air, their bad air got to move,” adding, “So it moves over to our good air space. Then, now, we got we to clean that back up.” In August 2022, in response to questions about the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022, which includes funding to counteract climate change, Walker said, “They continue to try to fool you that they are helping you out. But they’re not”. Possibly referring to a provision that allocated $1.5 billion to the U.S. Forest Service’s Urban and Community Forestry Program, Walker added, “Because a lot of money, it’s going to trees. Don’t we have enough trees around here?”
Walker favors reducing federal regulations to boost business. He supports widespread tax cuts, building the Keystone Pipeline and increasing production of fossil fuels. He proposes to “lower healthcare costs by increasing competitive market options”. Walker supports putting closed oil fields back into production and rolling back oil-field regulations in order to reduce inflation.
Walker opposes transgender athletes in women’s sports events, stating in September 2022: “Let’s get men out of women’s sports”.
On the above occasion Walker also discussed transgender children, stating: “they’re telling the young kids in school, you can be a boy tomorrow even if you’re a girl … But I want the young kids to know you go to heaven. Jesus may not recognize you. Because he made you a boy. He made you a girl.”
Asked about same-sex marriage, Walker stated same-sex marriage was “against stuff I believe in” and that Congress and states should be free to decide the legality of same-sex marriage.
Walker supports Donald Trump’s wall at the border with Mexico. He wants the United States to “heavily invest” in the military.
Walker lived in Westlake, Texas, before moving to the Buckhead district of Atlanta prior to running for Senate in 2022. He formerly lived in the Las Colinas area of Irving, Texas.
Relationships and children
Walker married his college sweetheart, Cindy DeAngelis Grossman, in 1983. They have a son named Christian. After 19 years of marriage, they divorced in 2002. Julie Blanchard said she was Walker’s fiancée from 2012; Walker married Blanchard in 2021.
In September 2001, when Walker and Grossman were estranged, an Irving, Texas police report stated that police were called to Grossman’s home by Walker’s therapist due to Walker’s visit there; Walker was “volatile”, had a weapon, and was scaring Grossman. The report stated that Walker “talked about having a shoot-out with police”; the therapist, Jerry Mungadze, defused the situation after speaking to Walker for at least half an hour. The report stated that police confiscated a SIG Sauer handgun from Walker’s car, put his home on a “caution list” due to Walker’s “violent tendencies”, but did not arrest or charge Walker. In a separate incident, Mungadze told the media that when he conducted a therapy session with Walker and Grossman, he called 911 because Walker “threatened to kill” all three of them, prompting the police to arrive; the result of the incident was Walker hitting a door, breaking his fist.
In filing for divorce in December 2001, Grossman accused him of “physically abusive and extremely threatening behavior.” After the divorce, she told the media that, during their marriage, Walker pointed a pistol at her head and said: “I’m going to blow your f’ing brains out.” She also said he had used knives to threaten her. In 2005, a restraining order was imposed on Walker regarding Grossman, after Grossman’s sister stated in an affidavit that Walker told her “unequivocally that he was going to shoot my sister Cindy and her [new] boyfriend in the head.” As a result, a temporary gun-owning ban was also issued to Walker by a judge. Walker stated that he does not remember the assault or the threats and attributed his aberrant behavior with his w