Through several of his brash stage personas, here reflecting his early years as a U.S. Navy SEAL, Jesse Ventura progresed from a performance wrestler to a suburban mayor to governor


and back to a flashy 6-foot-4-inch tall (193 cm) commentator on professional wrestling.




Jesse Ventura was Mayor of Brooklyn Park (population 71,000), MN, in 1991-1995 and was elected to the prestigious office of Governor in 1999-2003.


He was immortalized for the walls of the Minnesota State Capitol as the 38th Governor, leaning against the famous statue of The Thinker by Auguste Rodin, in the oil painting by Stephen Cepello.

Jesse Ventura

Q: Is Jesse Ventura Slovak?

James George Janos was born in Minneapolis, MN, on 15 July 1951. He adopted the stage name Jesse Ventura, and the nickname "The Body," during his career in the American Wrestling Association and retained it as Governor of Minnesota. Both of his paternal grandparents immigrated from Slovakia. His mother, Bernice née Lenz, grew up in a German-American family.

Ján Jánoš and Anna Demko

Jesse Ventura's paternal grandparents arrived with the first major wave of Slovak immigrants. His grandfather Ján Jánoš, called John Janos in the U.S., was born around 1859 and immigrated when he was about 23. He married Anna née Demko (Demková in modern Slovak) born around 1870, who immigrated in 1887. More data about their origin, except that he was Lutheran and that they identified as Slovak, are unknown. Ján first worked in the mines in Pennsylvania, the family moved to Minnesota around 1910.

George William Janos

Jesse Ventura's father George was born on 17 October 1907 in Pennsylvania and moved with his parents and two-years-older sister Elizabeth to Minnesota when he was three. He died on 11 April 1991; Jesse's "Aunt Betty," who remained single, lived till 95.

James George Janos – Ventura

Jesse Ventura said in his 1999 autobiography that he was influenced by his father as well as his aunt when he was growing up. He identified as Slovak in a 2008 CNN interview and recalled in his autobiography that Aunt Betty admonished him to do so. He adopted his stage name while he trained to become a professional wrestler in 1975. He said he picked it from "a highway in California," which he took literally but may have recalled from its figurative use in the 1972 top-ten hit "Ventura Highway" (or from the Ventura Freeway, a section of U.S. route 101 near Los Angeles), in order to complement his bleached hair and image of a California beach bum. He added "The Body" later.