Published: Sunday, October 17, 1999
STAR TRIBUNE Edition: METRO
Section: NEWS
Page#: 17A

Cashing in on a name

Jesse (the Body) Ventura(Registered)  
Governor, State of Minnesota(Registered)

Dear Gov. Ventura:

We, the citizens of Minnesota, owe you a big apology. We've been moaning and complaining about your outside interests. You know what we mean— the book deal, the action figures and the professional wrestling referee gig. And now, some are even complaining about your Playboy interview.

Hey, what can I say? Some of us are small minded. Some of us are weak-minded. And a lot of us are still getting used to this new approach of yours that combines politics and business, policy and celebrity, statesmanship and feather boas.

But we're learning. And you know, you were correct all along.

You do have the right to maintain an outside life. You do have the right to earn extra money on the side, when you're not busy being our governor. And you do have the right to cash in on the name and image you've so carefully built over the last 25 years.

Looking at this from your perspective, we realize that this can be a win-win situation — Minnesota is getting more publicity and attention as a state than ever before. "Doonesbury," a Barbara Walters special, "Late Night with David Letterman" and the Moonlite Bunnyranch's "Governor Ventura Suite." Isn't it great? It's like those business mergers where both companies bring something to the table and everybody wins. We've got synergy!

And just as in those business mergers, it's time for our lawyers to sit down and work out a few of the details.

Our lawyers have pointed out that you've been using the title Governor of Minnesota(Registered) even after 5 p.m. and on weekends, when you're no longer officially on the job. With your business background, we know you'll understand our need to protect our investment. After all, we've been building the image of our Office of Governor and the State of Minnesota since 1858.

We think that it's only fair that we, the citizens of Minnesota, should receive a portion of the money you earn while using the title Governor of Minnesota(Registered). Just think of it as a licensing fee.

So here's the deal, Jesse. You've been using Jesse (the Body) Ventura(Registered) for 25 years, and we've been using Governor of Minnesota(Registered) for 141 years. Let's share your outside earnings on the basis of years of service. For example, if you've earned $1,660,000 since Election Day (our experts tell us that's a very conservative estimate), you get to keep $250,000, and we'll take $1,410,000. Fair enough?

Now that we're in this business as partners, we've even thought of a few additional projects that we can pursue together. After all, why not make some more money while Governor(Registered) Ventura(Registered) is a hot property?

We've got a new television series all ready for you, "The Great SEAL of the State of the Minnesota." It's sort of a combination of "Spiderman," "Flipper" and "Washington Week in Review." Your character, a mild-mannered governor, gets bitten by a seal while visiting the Minnesota Zoo. Suddenly, with your new Super-Seal powers, you give out huge tax rebates, balance a budget on your nose and put your flipper in your mouth.

We'd also like you to serve as spokesperson for our new " E-Governor" Web site (www.governor-for-a-day.govcom). When you pointed out that your official hours as governor are from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday to Friday, it got us thinking. We don't want to let those other hours go to waste. After all, we live in a 24-7 world. So, we're going to rent out the Office of Governor on an hourly basis in the evenings and on weekends.

Our market research shows that many people would love to be Governor of Minnesota(Registered) for an hour or two. It looks great on resumes and Christmas cards. And it makes a nice graduation present.

The basic rental fee includes unlimited photo opportunities and three personalized gubernatorial proclamations. Of course, we'll charge extra for those individuals who want to veto bills, appoint judges or grant pardons during their hour as governor. A number of companies and special interest groups have already signed up for this wonderful chance to participate in state government.

Anyway, we're really looking forward to doing business with you for the next few years. And if you ever decide to run for president, we'd be honored to serve as your agent for any deals you make with the American people. Our commission is 15 percent.

Sincerely,

The Citizens of Minnesota

— Randy Wedin is a freelance writer in Wayzata.

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