Illinois’ Ken Bone is debate’s decided star — and still undecided

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Kenneth Bone listens as Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton answers a question during the second presidential debate with Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump at Washington University in St. Louis, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016. (Rick T. Wilking/Pool via AP)

ST. LOUIS — While supporters of GOP nominee Donald Trump and Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton bicker following the second presidential debate, one participant from Illinois is being greeted with almost universal approval: Kenneth Bone.

The mustachioed undecided voter from Illinois in thered sweater and khakis became an internet sensation almost instantly Sunday night when he took part in the town hall-style forum by asking the candidates about energy policy.

In a Monday morning interview with St. Louis radio station KFNS, the power plant worker explained that he was initially unaware of his newfound celebrity because participants in the forum weren’t allowed to have smartphones with them.

“When I got back to my car and turned it on I had 423 Facebook friend requests,” Bone said. “I just went ahead and accepted them all and it made me feel good about myself for a minute.”

Kenneth Bone sits in the audience before the start of the second presidential debate at Washington University, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Kenneth Bone sits in the audience before the start of the second presidential debate at Washington University, Sunday, Oct. 9, 2016, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Bone also gained thousands of Twitter followers in the hours after the debate. Some Twitter users have saluted him with edited photos. One takes after the iconic “HOPE” poster from President Barack Obama’s 2008 run.

GQ magazine has gotten in on the fun by posting a “Ken Bone Halloween costume kit ,” which includes a red sweater, glasses, a fake mustache and a microphone.


“I’m going as myself for Halloween. It will be the best costume ever,” he said.

Bone told Politico he almost didn’t wear the now famous red sweater.

“I had a really nice olive suit that I love a great deal and my mother would have been very proud to see me wearing on television, but apparently I have gained about 30 pounds and when I went to get in my car the morning of the debate I split the seat of my pants all the way open,” he told Politico. “So the red sweater is plan B. I’m glad it worked out. “

Bone has been inundated with media requests since his appearance, telling KFNS that he was booked for an appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Monday.

Bone may have found internet fame during the debate, but he still hasn’t figured out who he’ll vote for. He plans to wait until after the final debate next week to decide. He hopes the newfound attention on him as an undecided voter encourages people to focus on the issues.

“I’m just trying to get the message out there to keep everybody involved in the political process,” he said. “It’s the most important election of our time.”


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