When Joe Biden was sworn in as the 46th president of the United States on January 20, 2021, he became the oldest person ever to fill the role. Despite his age, many would say it was a job he was born to do. He basically began his political career as his high school’s class president (via Delaware Online). He then became one of the youngest senators of all time in 1973, when he was sworn in at the age of 30. He went on to serve on the senate for 36 years. He also ran for president three times and served as the vice president in the Barack Obama administration (via Time).
Despite his long history of political success, Biden didn’t have an easy journey. He was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania in 1942, and his father worked as a car salesman. Throughout his life, Biden faced multiple tragedies and setbacks, but he always lived by his father’s motto: “Champ, the measure of a man is not how often he is knocked down, but how quickly he gets up,” as Biden once recalled (via Biography). Curious to know more about the 46th president? Here is the untold truth of Joe Biden.
Joe Biden was a high school football star
We all know that President Joe Biden is a talented statesman — but you may not have realized that Biden was also a talented sportsman, too. In high school, Biden became a football star, as one of the fastest receivers on his team. For Biden, football was a way to feel accepted by his peers. “Sports turned out to be my ticket to acceptance — and more,” he wrote in his memoir “Promises to Keep: On Life and Politics,” as reported by The Daily Pennsylvanian.
In 1960, E. John Walsh became coach of the team, and he made Biden a halfback. The team had been on a losing streak, but Walsh and Biden proved to be a formidable duo. By the end of the season, Biden had a point total of 60, which made him one of the best players in the state of Delaware. When Walsh was inducted into the Delaware Sports Hall of Fame, Biden said that his time on the team had taught him important life lessons that he took with him into his political life. “He urged us to play the game the same way you lived your life, with passion and integrity,” Biden told his old high school, Archmere Academy.
How Joe Biden worked to overcome his stutter
One of the reasons that Joe Biden turned to football for social acceptance was that he struggled with a crippling stutter as a child that left him feeling isolated and self-conscious. In school, Biden’s stutter was often debilitating. When the class read aloud from a book, Biden would read ahead to his paragraph and memorize it. “I found it easier to memorize than look at the page and read the word,” he told The Atlantic. When he stumbled on words, even his teacher would mock him, calling him “Mr. Buh-Buh-Buh-Biden.” Eventually, his classmates gave him the nickname “Dash,” comparing his stutter to the sound of Morse code. At the time, Biden felt ashamed and desperate.
To overcome his stutter, Biden turned to poetry. As he explained, he used to recite poetry to himself in his bedroom mirror. Even though Biden has managed to get past his childhood stutter, he still struggles with speech from time to time. In a Q&A on CNN, Biden explained that he still writes his speeches with specific markings like in the film “The King’s Speech,” so that he never has to speak too quickly.
Joe Biden used to get into trouble as a young adult
It’s hard to imagine the president of the United States getting into trouble for pulling pranks — but nevertheless, Joe Biden has pulled a few wild pranks in his day. During a speech at the Coast Guard Academy commencement in Connecticut, as reported by Roll Call, Biden recalled one prank from his youth that almost got him into some trouble. “As we say in my faith, I needed absolution,” he said, referring to his penchant for rule-breaking. “Minor infractions like using a fire extinguisher to hose down an RA [a resident advisor],” he shared.
According to The New York Times, he was placed on probation for the prank. And, according to a 2004 eulogy given by Biden for an old friend, he once snuck into the dorm room of a young girlfriend and let his friend, who was standing guard, deal with the campus police (via The New York Times).
Joe Biden's family and their politics were a huge influence on him
Growing up, Joe Biden clearly looked to his family for guidance and had a tremendous respect for them. In an interview with RTE, Joe Biden spoke about his mother’s side of the family, sharing that his grandparents were Irish immigrants. “My grandfather and grandmother Finnegan, all my mother’s brothers, and my father told us about the courage and commitment it took for our relatives to emigrate from Ireland,” he said.
His father was also a major role model in his life. In Biden’s autobiography, he recalled that his father left his job when his boss tossed silver coins to his employees to watch them scramble for them. And when Biden eventually ran for office, his father was with him every step of the way (via Marie Claire). It sounds like Biden learned plenty of lessons about Democrat values from his family.
And even though Biden’s grandparents weren’t politicians, it sounds like they were firm Democratic voters. In a 2020 video for Wired, Joe Biden answered “the web’s most searched questions” about himself. One common question was simply, “Is Joe Biden a Democrat or Republican?” Biden answered, “I’d have to change my name if I weren’t a Democrat. My grandfather Finnegan would come back from his grave.”
How Joe Biden really felt about his cameo in Parks and Rec
In 2012 and 2015, respectively, Joe Biden appeared in two episodes of the comedy TV show “Parks and Rec” playing himself. The hilarious cameo featured Amy Poehler as Leslie Knope, of course, as she fangirled over Biden, then the vice president, saying the iconic line, “This isn’t happening. This isn’t real.”
In an interview for Wired, Biden explained that he only appeared on the show because he was asked to play himself. He added, “Met a lot of good people.” As the show’s executive producer Michael Schur told Entertainment Weekly, getting Biden to agree to the cameo was much easier than he thought it would be. “His staff really loves the show, and he apparently had watched the show with his family and his family liked it,” he explained. Even though Biden has said that he is most definitely “not an actor,” he apparently ad-libbed a line on the show!
This is why Joe Biden was never in the army
As a young student, Joe Biden was nearly drafted into the army to fight in the Vietnam War. However, he received five student draft deferments throughout his time in school, as noted by USA Today. Then, in 1968, he had a physical exam, during which he was essentially deemed unfit for service because of his asthma. He was classified as “1-Y,” which, according to Delaware Online, meant that he would only be drafted in a “national emergency.” In an interview with The Washington Post, Biden claimed that he would have gladly served for his country if called upon, perhaps as a pilot. “I was prepared to go,” he said.
According to Politico, Biden still deals with asthma and allergies to this day. In April of 2008, he even underwent a sinus surgery to help him deal with these medical issues. Nevertheless, even though Biden wasn’t deemed fit for the army, his medical examinations in the lead-up to his inauguration showed he was a “healthy, vigorous, 77-year-old male, who is fit to successfully execute the duties of the Presidency” (via NBC News).
Joe Biden really, really loves cars
After growing up with a father who worked in an auto shop, Joe Biden developed a life-long passion for cars. His father had planned to give him a ’51 Chevy Bel Air as a wedding gift. “Then the day before the wedding he had us drive in and came in under the portico of the dealership, and there’s a brand-new 1967 327/350 Goodwood green, two-top convertible waiting there for [us] — as a wedding gift. Well, I still have it. … I still love it,” Biden said once in a speech. In another speech, he explained that one downside to running for president would be that he’d have to give up driving fast cars! According to Politco, he still gets notifications from Car and Driver on his phone.
Since becoming president, Biden has managed to continue driving. In May 2021, he even showed off his driving skills in a F-150 Lightning electric truck, yelling to a nearby crowd of reporters, “This sucker’s quick!” (via The Washington Post). Yep, Biden sure does love his cars.
Joe Biden's first wife, Neilia, and their daughter died tragically
Joe Biden’s life was changed forever in 1972, when his wife Neilia and their baby daughter, Naomi, died in a car accident. Their sons, Beau and Hunter, were also in the crash, but survived. Biden was informed about the crash over the phone while he was at work, and the tragedy left Biden grief-stricken. He wrote in his 2017 book “Promise Me, Dad” (via Independent), “The pain … seemed unbearable in the beginning, and it took me a long time to heal, but I did survive the punishing ordeal.” He said during a speech at Yale (via Vogue), “Focusing on my sons, I found my redemption.”
The tragic event shaped Biden’s life and career. Years later, when he was the vice president, he called the Barden family after their child was murdered at Connecticut’s Sandy Hook Elementary School. Apparently, Biden told the family to keep a notepad by the bed and keep track of how they felt each day on a scale of one to 10. Barden recalled to Politico, “He said, ‘I think what you’ll find is the lows will always be just as low — but they’ll start to get farther apart.” Clearly, Biden’s experience with grief has helped him become the man he is today.
Joe Biden met his second wife Jill on a blind date
Three years after his first wife’s untimely death, Joe Biden met his second wife, Jill. The pair met on a blind date set up by Biden’s brother. As he explained in a video for the 2020 Democratic National Convention, “My brother said, ‘There’s this woman, you’ll really like her, Joe.'” So, a date was arranged.
Jill told Vogue that Biden wasn’t exactly her usual type. “I was a senior, and I had been dating guys in jeans and clogs and T-shirts, he came to the door and he had a sport coat and loafers,” she recalled. She assumed they would be too different to be a good match. However, soon enough, they were inseparable.
At first, Jill was hesitant to accept his proposal — in fact, he had to ask her five times before she said yes! Apparently, she was concerned about Biden’s sons since they’d lost their mother. “I really felt that this marriage had to work,” Jill said. Of course, it did!
This is Joe Biden's guiltiest pleasure
Even the president of the United States has a few guilty pleasures. It turns out, Joe Biden seriously loves ice cream! As he confessed in an interview for Wired, when his mom came to live with him after his father died, Biden would always have ice cream with her. “My wife would say, ‘You’ve been with your mother, I can smell ice cream,'” he said. “Anyway, the point is, I love ice cream, always have.” His favorite flavor? Good old-fashioned chocolate chip.
Because of Biden’s love of ice cream, Cornell Dairy at Cornell University even honored him with his very own flavor of ice cream named after him, according to The Cornell Daily Sun. Five potential names were chosen: Biden’s Chocolate Bites; Bits n’ Biden; Big Red, White & Biden; Not Your Average Joe’s Chocolate Chip; and Uncle Joe’s Chocolate Chip. In the end, Big Red, White & Biden was the winner. Biden even got to taste his ice cream, as NBC News tweeted!
Will Joe Biden ever go vegan?
In an interview with Wired, Joe Biden explained that he wasn’t vegan, but shared that his wife had started convincing him to eat less meat. “Most of the meals I eat, quite frankly, don’t have meat,” he said. And, when he does eat meat, he said, it’s usually chicken or fish.
According to The Washington Examiner, Biden does still eat a fair amount of meat — especially when he’s on the road. While he was campaigning in 2012, he reportedly ate chicken parmesan, turkey wraps, pepperoni pizza, a cheeseburger, beef soup, and scrambled eggs and bacon. And, of course, Biden got plenty of dairy from all of the ice cream and baked goods he consumed, too. Even if his wife is trying to encourage him to go vegan, it looks like he still has a long way to go! As Jill Biden told Parade, she is doing her best by adding extra vegetables into her dishes whenever she can.
This is Joe Biden's favorite movie
It turns out, President Joe Biden loves to relax at the end of a long day in the (Oval) office with a good movie just like the rest of us. His favorite film of all time? Well, as he told CBS News, it’s “Chariots of Fire,” the 1981 film about the British Olympic running team. It may seem like an odd choice for the American politician, but, as he explained, the movie taught him about putting “personal fame and glory behind principles.” His favorite scene, he said, was when one of the runners decided not to run because of his religious principles. “He so desperately wanted to run, but concluded he couldn’t,” Biden said.
Years later, in 2020, Biden quoted the movie in his victory speech. When Hugh Hudson, the director of the film, heard that the new president of the United States was such a big fan, he told The Guardian, “[Biden is] a deeply devout man. The film is about selflessness and self-sacrifice. These are things he appreciates.” Maybe this old British period sports film has more to do with American politics than we thought.
How becoming president has influenced Joe Biden's marriage
Being the president of the United States is a pretty all-encompassing job. It’s hard to imagine that anyone who assumes the role can have much of a personal life. For Joe Biden, this is exactly what happened when he was sworn in. In an interview with Vogue, he and the first lady, Jill, explained how the job had affected their marriage. He said that the demands of the role meant that he and his wife could no longer jet off on spontaneous holidays as they used to when they were younger. “I miss her,” he explained.
But Biden understood that this was what he agreed to when he took on the job. “This life prevents [spending much time together],” he said. Nevertheless, he and his wife are still working on ways to see more of each other. “We have to figure out a way — and I mean this sincerely — to be able to steal time for one another. I think that’s the deal,” he said.
Joe Biden has a really close relationship with his family
Joe Biden has a large family — and it’s pretty clear that he cherishes them all. His daughter Ashley and four of his grandchildren — Naomi, Finn, Natalie, and Maisy — spoke to Today about their close relationship with the president. Maisy explained that he “literally calls” each of his grandkids all the time and then chats with them on their group chat. “It’s really amazing,” she said of his love for them. Apparently, Biden is also dedicated to coming to all his grandchildren’s sports games. How adorable!
In an interview with James Corden, Biden opened up about how deeply he cares about family after showing some of his most prized possessions — family photos. “I’m really lucky. I have great kids,” he said tearfully.
Biden’s appreciation for family is so strong, he even has a reputation of telling his own employees to take time off when they need to be with their families (via CNBC). As far as we’re concerned, Biden definitely has his priorities in order.
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