Knox County mayor, WWE superstar Glenn 'Kane' Jacobs talks faith, politics and opportunity in the US

Glenn Jacobs, 55, is the mayor of Knox County, Tennessee. In 2018, the former WWE champion followed in the footsteps of Jesse Ventura and became the second WWE star to occupy a public office in the U.S. The WWE superstar, known by his ring name “Kane,” won the race for mayor in Tennessee’s third-largest county. Jacobs handily defeated Democrat Linda Haney, with most of the votes counted in Knox County on Thursday, according to unofficial returns.

“I always joke that because of my character, you know – most politicians are trying to convince people that the politician is the person they see on TV. I was trying to convince people I was not the person they saw on TV,” Jacobs told Fox News Digital in an exclusive interview.

Jacob’s character, Kane, debuted as a crimson, masked and mute demon who was half-brothers with fan-favorite superstar The Undertaker. Kane shocked the wrestling world with unprecedented pyrotechnics, a complex backstory and a dark edge not seen in years. The pair of on-camera siblings became one of the wrestling world’s most famous and decorated tag teams – the Brothers of Destruction.

Kane, taking two top stars down during the WWE Raw event at Rose Garden arena in Portland, Oregon, Feb. 27, 2012.

Kane, taking two top stars down during the WWE Raw event at Rose Garden arena in Portland, Oregon, Feb. 27, 2012. (Chris Ryan/Corbis via Getty Images)

“As I got older, I got more interested in politics – I’ve always taken a casual interest in politics, since I was in high school. I wasn’t in student government or anything like that. But I always watched the news and was always [interested] in those things,” Jacobs said of his younger years.

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As he got older, Jacobs says he began asking himself questions like, “Why have I been blessed with a wonderful life?” and “How is that possible?”

“It’s because of the opportunities that we get here in America, which emerge from what our country was based on, which is individual liberty and free markets,” Jacobs told Fox News Digital. “And that just really resonated with me.”

Inspired to pursue politics by libertarian figures like former presidential candidate Ron Paul and others, Jacobs has in the past been described as a libertarian. However, the mayor has become more closely associated with the mainstream thread of the Republican Party following the victory of former President Donald Trump.

Jacobs says that it’s not his politics that have changed, but the GOP’s platform.

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“I think what’s happened is there’s been a much stronger libertarian wing of the Republican Party come to the forefront. I was a big supporter of Ron Paul when he ran for president in 2008, 2012,” Jacobs told Fox News. “I think it really started there.”

He continued, “We see people like Rand Paul now – Thomas Massie, Mike Lee, Ted Cruz – I may not necessarily agree with them all on everything, but nevertheless, the core idea is the same.”

Despite his libertarian background, he breaks with the group on some social views – notably his pro-life position on abortion. Jacobs is also a firm believer in the importance of churches and neighborhood communities for uniting underserved areas.

“You really have to understand the importance of social institutions like the family and like the church,” Jacobs says. “And, you know, if you don’t have those, government ends up replacing them. And that’s kind of what we’ve seen happening. So I do believe that it is important that we have strong social institutions – the family, the church.”

When asked about the irony of his horrifying persona and his commitment to religion and small town values, Jacobs jokes, “That’s why you wouldn’t want Kane to be the dictator – you don’t want anyone to be.”

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“These are our local communities,” he said. “That’s really what society is based on. So I think that sometimes libertarians discount that.”

Jacobs was born on a U.S. Air Force base in Madrid, Spain. After growing up in Missouri, he went to university on a basketball scholarship before making the unexpected jump to football. The massive athlete had dreams of the NFL, but a bum knee kept him from trying to make the draft. A casual fan of wrestling, Jacobs thought it would be an interesting sport to try – he ended up making the WWE Hall of Fame in 2021.

Even as his on-screen persona, Jacobs has shown an intelligence that bucks the stereotypes of the massive, jarhead wrestler. Kane won the WWE edition of the game show “The Weakest Link,” securing $ 82,000 for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee.

Mayor Glenn Jacobs and Shermichael Singleton speak onstage during Politicon 2019 at Music City Center on Oct. 27, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee. 

Mayor Glenn Jacobs and Shermichael Singleton speak onstage during Politicon 2019 at Music City Center on Oct. 27, 2019, in Nashville, Tennessee.  (Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Politicon)

Jacobs speaks bluntly about the successes and stumbles of Knox County. The opioid epidemic has left a deep scar in the area’s youth, and homelessness spiked due to the rampant addiction. The mayor says he tries to be as upfront with his constituents as possible, on both the good and the bad.

Conversely, Jacobs touts the rise of tourism in his area, as well as an influx of investment and out-of-state transplants. He attributes this significant uptick to the state’s disregard for federal COVID-19 mandates, saying, “We did not go nearly as far as other places did. The governor had a ‘safer-at-home’ order for a week or two, and then I think he lifted it, but I don’t think anybody paid attention to it anyway. To his credit, that was the [only] thing he did that I didn’t agree with.”

“Most of the people that I deal with here are good people. I don’t always agree with them, but they don’t have any nefarious intentions behind what they do. But I do think that when you get – especially to the federal level – there are some people who are extremely power hungry and will say or do anything to stay in power.”

Jacobs intends to stay as far away from the “power hungry” federal level as possible, saying he has no interest in a run for Congress or the Senate.

“I’m running for re-election right now, and that’s what I’m really concentrating on. I have no interest at all in going to Washington, D.C,” he stated. “Unfortunately, I believe the federal government is pretty broken.”

MC Punk and Fight Kane during the WWE Smackdown at Plaza Vicente Fernandez on Feb. 14, 2010, in Guadalajara, Mexico.

MC Punk and Fight Kane during the WWE Smackdown at Plaza Vicente Fernandez on Feb. 14, 2010, in Guadalajara, Mexico. (Gerardo Zavala/Jam Media/LatinContent via Getty Images)

Jacobs says positive change and growth for rural communities needs to start at home, and local politics will prove to be infinitely more relevant to citizens’ day to day lives than the lawmakers of D.C.

Asked if he sees a cultural divide expanding between the left and right, Jacobs believes there are fundamentally good people on all sides of politics, but the loudest and most aggressive are dominating the discourse.

“There is a culture war going on,” Jacobs said. “I think most people actually don’t care what other folks do. They’re just tired of getting it shoved in their face. They’re tired of getting preached at, screamed at, called racist, homophobes, bigots, and everything else just because they might not agree with some things.”

He continued, “I think what’s happened is the woke people have really overplayed their hand. And you know, the rest of the country – who probably makes up the vast majority of people – are really tired of being denigrated just for expressing their opinions.”

Glenn Jacobs attends the 2011 WWE Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Philips Arena on April 3, 2011, in Atlanta.

Glenn Jacobs attends the 2011 WWE Hall Of Fame Induction Ceremony at the Philips Arena on April 3, 2011, in Atlanta. (Moses Robinson/Getty Images)

Now, in 2022, Jacobs is running for re-election. He announced his decision early last year with a statement boasting his accomplishments through the pandemic and economic uncertainty.

“Four years ago, I pledged to stay true to my conservative values as mayor. Nobody could have envisioned a pandemic and the economic shutdown that followed, but I’m proud Knox County has been able to weather the storm without a tax increase,” Jacobs told local outlets

“By tightening our belt and making smart cuts, we balanced our budget while continuing to make forward-thinking investments in our community. If re-elected, the public can expect four more years of leadership with conservative values top of mind,” he added.

Fox News’ Steve Credo and Benjamin Brown contributed to this report.

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