Bell grad gets national attention for speech

Published 1:55 pm Tuesday, June 5, 2018

A Bell County High School graduate recently made national headlines for his valedictorian speech at the school’s graduation ceremony. Ben Bowling was on stage delivering his speech when he decided to throw a minor curve ball into the proceedings.

“This is the part of my speech where I share some inspirational quotes I found on Google,” Bowling said in his speech. “’Don’t just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.’ — Donald J. Trump.”

As seen on a video posted to Twitter, the crowd erupted in applause. While the crowd continued to clap, Bowling interrupted stating, “just kidding, that was Barack Obama.”

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After this revelation, the applause slowly began to quieten. At least one person on the video can be heard booing while some laughed.

While Bowling could not be reached for comment by the Daily News, he stated to the Courier Journal that he didn’t mean anything bad by the joke. It was just supposed be a lighthearted gag.

“I just thought it was a really good quote,” Bowling said to the Courier Journal. “Most people wouldn’t like it if I used it, so (I) thought I’d use Donald Trump’s name. It is southeastern Kentucky after all.”

Trump won Kentucky in the presidential election by a considerable margin, with 62.5 percent of the vote over all the other candidates, according to

Despite the controversy something like this has the potential to stir in today’s hot button political climate, Bowling told the Courier Journal there was no backlash for his joke.