Graduation season is still going strong, and students all across the country are brimming with excitement to put on their caps and gowns and walk across that stage into the next phase of their lives. Aside from the guest speakers at the ceremony, the valedictorian's speech is probably one of the more important ones of the day. One particular valedictorian's speech made the rounds on the internet on June 4 after it was revealed that he expertly trolled his high school graduation's audience by using that most standard of graduation speech devices — the presidential quote. This valedictorian swapped Trump and Obama's names on a quote to execute what might be the most epic prank in high school graduation history, and I am definitely here for this.
Ben Bowling was named the valedictorian at Bell County High School in Pineville, Kentucky. The graduating senior wanted to include a important and meaningful quote in his speech, and found one from President Barack Obama that he liked. I mean, who wouldn't want to include an Obama quote in their speech — it's pretty much going to be a guaranteed hit. But Bowling decided to be a jokester and mess with the audience by saying that the quote belongs to current President Donald Trump, before actually revealing that it, in fact, is an Obama quote.
According to the Louisville Courier Journal, Bowling introduced the inspirational quotes section of his speech on June 2 with some words from "Trump." Bowling said,
This is the part of my speech where I share some inspirational quotes I found on Google. 'Don't just get involved. Fight for your seat at the table. Better yet, fight for a seat at the head of the table.' - Donald J. Trump.
The quote was met with a roaring round of applause from the audience, but then Bowling flipped the script on everyone in the building. "Just kidding," Bowling said. "That was Barack Obama." And the clapping subsequently quieted very quickly. Awkward, but hilarious at the same time. Forget valedictorian, I think that the troll award of 2018 belongs to Bowling.
This town in southeastern Kentucky is almost certainly populated by members of President Donald Trump's base. Nearly 80 percent of Bell County voted for Trump in the 2016 presidential elections, according to the Courier Journal. So judging by the silence that apparently fell upon the crowd after Bowling said the quote was Obama's and not Trump's, I don't know if everyone in the audience was pleased to hear this joke from the graduating senior. But it did make for an amazing moment nonetheless, and who can't appreciate a great prank?
There's a lot of ways that one can compare the Obama administration to Trump's. You can list off the different controversies that both have endured during their time in the White House, compare their social media reactions to different world events, and you can even compare their White House interns against each other. But I don't think I've ever seen a quote bait-and-switch using the presidents' words like that. The kids, they are the future (of trolling).
But Bowling insists that the joke was done in good fun — not for any specific malicious intent. “I just thought it was a really good quote,” Bowling told the Courier Journal. “Most people wouldn’t like it if I used it, so thought I’d use Donald Trump’s name. It is southeastern Kentucky after all.” But even though Bowling didn't mean to cause a stir with his joke, that didn't stop the internet from getting wind of it, and the troll quickly went viral.
Bowling graduated with a 4.216 grade point average, according to the Courier Journal, and will be attending the University of Kentucky in the fall. But this student isn't looking to become a comedian — Bowling hopes to study biology and earn a degree in medicine one day.
But until he achieves all of his life's goals, Bowling will surely be immortalized by both his classmates and by the internet for creating the perfect valedictorian speech prank that 2018 needed. If anyone else attempts to top this troll I don't think that they'll succeed. So kudos to you, Bowling. This joke will definitely go down in my book as one of the best graduation speech jokes that I've ever heard.