We’re rapidly approaching the end of the Barack Obama presidency. Whether you love the guy, loathe him or remain indifferent, there is no denying his poise under pressure. His life before the presidency groomed him for it. He is well-spoken and respected among his peers, regardless of the partisan politicizing. Because President Obama has lived life in the public eye for the past eight years, people are quite familiar with who they think he is. But…do they really know? Here are 15 things you may not know about the 44th President of the United States.
15. The Name Barack Means…
The name Barack comes from the Swahili language, and it means “one who is blessed.” Barack Hussein Obama, Jr. was given the name of his birth father, and he inherited many blessings when considering the big picture. Barack Obama Sr. was a student in Hawaii when he met (Stanley) Ann Dunham. The two married, had little Barack Jr., and Ann deferred to her husband’s naming wishes. Like his pops, Barack Obama became involved in public policy and community organization at an early age. Barack Jr. also has several half-siblings. Regarding influence, the Barack Obama we call POTUS enjoyed a serious shift in perspective, worldview and cultural preference as he grew older, eventually landing him in one of the world’s most prestigious offices.
14. He Was a World Traveler By Age 4
Continuing the Barack Obama childhood vibe, let’s dig into the fact that he was better traveled by age four than most Americans are at 40. After Barack was born in August of 1961, his mother took him back to the United States mainland (Seattle) to continue her education. The following year, she returned to Hawaii with her little boy in tote, and Barack Sr. ventured to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to study at Harvard. Ann met Lolo Soetoro in 1962, a Javanese surveyor, who was studying geography in Hawaii. Ann and Barack Sr. ended their marriage in 1964, and in 1965, she married Lolo. In 1967, she took Barack to Jakarta, Indonesia, to live with Lolo. Now you know why President Obama can speak Indonesian fluently. In 1971, Barack moved back to Hawaii to live with his maternal grandparents, where he would stay to complete his secondary education.
13. He Was Beloved By His Maternal Grandparents
There is no denying the charisma Barack Obama inherited from many of his family members, but his maternal grandparents, Madelyn and Stanley Dunham, were instrumental in his formative years. As stated, they served as his parents during much of his childhood, and during his high school years in Hawaii. Being a white couple from Wichita, Kansas, they were quite progressive for a duo steeped in modern era thinking. The opposite was true for Barack’s paternal grandfather, who didn’t approve of Barack Sr. pursuing a relationship with a white woman. Nonetheless, Barack Jr. enjoyed a great relationship with his grandparents, and they beamed in his presence. Barack never questioned the love he received from his grandparents, but he has remained candid about his drug use during his teen years, trying to understand who he was as a multiracial young man looking for acceptance in the world.
12. He Played Varsity Basketball in High School
Barack Obama’s favorite sport is basketball, and he’s done a lot to promote the sport at the White House. There had never been any baller who had called the White House home, so he had to make some changes on the property. Namely, a quality basketball court. Barack’s love of basketball began at an early age, and he played on competitive teams throughout school, even making his high school varsity squad. There are many different versions as to the legend of Barry O’Bomber, his on-the-court nickname, but the only thing that really matters is the fact the nickname exists. Now in his 50s, President Obama still loves to hit the hardwood whenever possible. We imagine he’s one of those guys who would show up to your open gym in college with a few other 50-year-old friends. These guys can never be beaten, and they run the court all night.
11. He Eats an Apple a Day
Barack Obama has his vices. He has long been candid about his on-again, off-again smoking habit. We’re under the impression he quit for good in 2010. Ultimately, President Obama is really into health and fitness. Regular exercise is a must, and eating healthy—as opposed to feasting on a daily basis—is another presidential concern. If you’re wondering what President Obama’s favorite health food is, it would fall into the category of “fruits.” He loves apples. And who doesn’t? All those delicious phytonutrients spilling from the juice of a sweet, tart Granny Smith apple? It doesn’t get much better than that. Of course, President Obama attributes much of his healthcare to wife Michelle, who has made health and fitness her First Lady mission. She’s done a heckuva job with it, too. The fact that they had the ridiculous “Food Pyramid” torn down may be the greatest thing from his presidency.
10. He Is a Comic Book Nerd
Read the following sentence, then follow the directive. Imagine a young Barack Obama sitting in bed, late at night, flashlight in hand, digging deep into the world of Marvel. Seriously, little Barack reading Spider-Man. It’s heartwarming, isn’t it? Now, every time someone is talking major smack about Barack Obama, and they say they hate everything about him, ask that person if they love Spider-Man. Then simply ask: “Did you know Barack Obama loves Spider-Man?” In addition to his love for all things in the world of Peter Parker, President Obama was also really into Conan the Barbarian. That’s one you really didn’t see coming, isn’t it? If there’s anything that can bridge the gap known as the partisan political aisle, it’s gotta be comic book heroes!
9. He Tried Modeling While at Harvard
Ladies love Barack. There’s no denying the Commander in Chief has some sex appeal. But he didn’t always attract that kind of attention. While at Harvard, there was a female committee that was looking to put together a calendar of Harvard hunks to sell as a fundraiser. Barack Obama thought he’d give male modeling a go, so he showed up, submitted some photographs and was promptly rejected by the female panel. Don’t you know all of those women are rethinking their entire existence at this point? How much would one of those calendars be worth now if President Obama was Mr. May?
8. Michelle Obama Saw the Diamond in the Rough
Some might suggest Barack Obama would have never been elected POTUS had it not been for his wife, Michelle. President Obama would agree with those people. When the couple now known as The Obamas first met they had an attraction for one another, but Barack was rough around the edges when considering Michelle’s spiritually tethered, exceptionally disciplined lifestyle. Michelle was a Christian, and Barack was open to the idea of a deity, but wasn’t raised in a church-goin’ household. As his faith developed, so did their relationship, and the two married in 1992, and started having babies a few years later. They are a power couple. Herein lies one of the greatest ironies of Barack Obama the man. No matter how outspoken he is about being a Christian, all the oddball, Jesus-claiming types, chase him with verbal tridents and rhetoric proclaiming his Muslim faith. Michelle doesn’t care.
7. He Opts for ESPN Over CNN
While on the campaign trail and getting the heat from national news media, Barack Obama paid no mind. He didn’t pay attention to debate results, polls or the rhetoric being spewed by proponents and opponents. Instead of watching CNN he’d flip on ESPN, get his mind right and then go about his business. This should come as no surprise as President Obama is presumably a bigger sports fan than he is a fan of politics. Regardless of his political views, or your response to President Obama as The United States’ most powerful executive, he’ll be missed every March when he officially enters his NCAA March Madness bracket into the mix of the general population. Haters may hate, but a President willing to be humiliated with a busted bracket is a man after our heart.
6. He Has Good Luck Charms
We can imagine that it must be hard to stay grounded when you occupy such a challenging political position as being the President of the United States. To help with this, Barack Obama carries a couple things—on Air Force One, Marine One, etc.—that he considers lucky charms. The first is a Madonna with Jesus (as in Mary and Jesus vs. “Like a Virgin” Madonna) statuette, and the second is a bracelet from a soldier in the United States military. This is because Barack always wants to be reminded of his faith and the sacrifice that Americans have made to forge the ideological American dream of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
5. He’s Not Into The Bean
When imagining what it might be like to serve as President of the United States, could you imagine beginning each day without a quality kick? A little something to fire you up before you settle down to long day of addressing 320,000,000 different opinions, and attempting to serve the best interests of 7.1 billion people worldwide? We’re thinking you’d start the day with a cup of the finest cup of coffee possible. Not President Barack Obama. We don’t know if he gets his spark from a little morning workout, an apple cider vinegar cocktail or a cup of hot tea, but we’re sure he doesn’t drink coffee. Barack Obama isn’t a coffee drinker. And this is especially odd considering some of the finest coffee grown in the world comes from the land of his bloodline: Kenya.
4. He Is The First President to Use Social Media
The rate at which social media has progressed over the past 10 years is equivalent to mass production coming off the printing presses times 10. Exponential amounts of information, both true and false, available at your fingertips 24/7. Let’s use that imagination again. Could you imagine being the President of the United States during the infantile stages of this crap? Unbelievable. Simply put, President Barack Obama was the first president to tweet. Thinking about approval ratings, and presidents of the past, never did they have to combat the masses via internet. There were news stories and that was about it, but the rise of social media? Well, Senator Barack Obama probably owes his presidency to the rampant rise of social media, and his re-election to his mastery of social media when compared to competitors. He is the president who ushered the world into the social media era.
3. He Is A Two-Time Grammy Award Winner
People love the voice of Barack Obama. Many of his biggest fans and supporters take great comfort in his cadence and vocal delivery. As you’re well aware, President Obama has written multiple books, two of them that have crushed sales as best sellers. Both The Audacity of Hope, and Dreams from My Father were wild successes, and they were recorded as audiobooks. Barack Obama won a Grammy Award for Best Spoken Word Album for both of these publications. Not so shabby, eh? Thinking ahead…a year from now: what is President Obama going to do when he’s former President Barack Obama? Will he get back into the legal fields? Would he run for United States Congress again? He’d win a seat in anywhere he’d take up residence. How about a book, and another Grammy based on his experiences?
2. He’s Stronger Than He Looks
Don’t mess with El Presidente. We’ve already said it. Before he was President Barack Obama, he was Barry O’Bomber. Barack Obama is an athlete. He takes his health seriously. He finally kicked that smoking habit and is putting quality food fuel into his body. Regarding his physical performance in his 40s and 50s…? He’s no slouch. He doesn’t just jog, and play basketball and golf. He takes in a variety of fitness and strength training activities, including the good ole bench press. President Obama stands at 6’1″ in height, and weighs in at a lean and mean 180 lbs. But he is alleged to bench press over 200 lbs! We’re thinking that puts him in the top five percent in his age division. It’s considered a fitness milestone to bench press a load comparable to body weight, and surpassing that ratio is only a more impressive feat. Get those gains, bro!
1. That’s “Mr. Renegade” to You
Throughout American history, American presidents, first ladies and any children of the first couple have enjoyed a variety of nicknames, which are given to them by the Secret Service. Some great ones from years’ past: Jacqueline and John Kennedy were known as a Lace and Lancelot, respectively. Jimmy Carter was a devout, churchgoing man during his presidency, and continued to teach Bible classes even while he was in office; he was referred to as “Deacon.” Regarding the Obama family, President Obama is Renegade, Michelle Obama is Renaissance, Malia is Radiance and Sasha is Rosebud. Nothing like busting out a little reference to Orson Welles and Citizen Kane!? Kudos to the Secret Service. We’re hoping Barack Obama will write a little something about being the “Renegade” when he has completed his second term as president.