The 39th American President, Jimmy Carter held the title for only one mandate, but made his name known even more after he left office, by becoming one of the foremost humanitarians of our time. You might already know that, after leaving the White House, Jimmy Carter delved into founding and managing the Carter Center, whose work to advance human rights and improve the quality of life around of the world has led to Carter being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2002.
But here are some other interesting facts you may not know about Jimmy Carter.
Jimmy Carter Facts
1. He was a fan of sports and continues to keep in shape
At the age of 95, Jimmy Carter is the oldest living former US president, an interesting fact about Jimmy Carter. He may owe this in large part to his active, healthy lifestyle, which he led from a young age.
In high school, Jimmy played basketball. Afterwards, he joined the US Naval Academy at Annapolis and ran cross-country and played American football too. Throughout his life, he’s been a keen tennis player and is known to also play softball and to fish and hunt.
In later life, he’s said he keeps in shape by jogging, riding a bike and continuing to play tennis. He’s also always said he continues to dance with his wife Rosalynn.
2. He’s a big reader
Jimmy Carter is a massive reading fan and is reported to read 3 to 4 books a week. He wanted to cram in as much as possible so he even took a speed-reading course!
3. He started in politics on a whim and thought he’d lost his first primary
In the 60s, Carter had abandoned his naval career after the death of his father, returning to the family peanut farm in Georgia. It was his experience with rural civil rights that got him interested in politics, and he ran for the local State Senate nomination from the Democratic party. However, the initial vote count suggested he had lost the primary election and it was only after a recount that he was actually confirmed as the winner. As of 1963, Jimmy Carter joined the Georgia State Senate, thus starting off his political career.
4. Carter was interviewed by Playboy as part of his election campaign
In a traditional, family-oriented presidential race as the United States one often is, it’s surprising that a candidate would use Playboy as platform during their campaign. However, an interesting fact about Jimmy Carter is that he gave an interview to the adult magazine a few weeks before the election and potentially boosted his popularity by being honest and stating that he had “looked on a lot of women with lust.”
5. He was ahead of his time in energy saving
During Carter’s time in the White House, he installed solar panels in 1979. This was significantly ahead of its time, and the panels were meant to be used for heating the water.
Carter’s decision was influenced by the ongoing fuel crisis at the time and he wanted to actually show his commitment to reducing energy waste. Sadly, Ronald Reagan subsequently removed Carter’s solar panels during a renovation project in 1986.
6. Not only did he love reading, he was a movie-going President
As President, Jimmy Carter was known to really enjoy watching films and enjoyed early access before the US-wide premieres to many movies. He managed to average going to two a week for a part of his presidential term, an interesting fact about Jimmy Carter.
Some of the films he’s known to have had first dibs seeing are Midnight Cowboy (1969), All the President’s Men (1976), and Caddyshack (1980).
We also know that Jimmy Carter watched Star Wars with Anwar Sadat, the then-president of Egypt.
7. He was a stripped-down President
Not a fan of luxury and ostentatious displays of it, President Jimmy Carter didn’t use much of the fancy apparel put at his disposal once he entered the White House. He carried his own briefcase and he was very unassuming. Additionally, he sold the presidential yacht which he saw as a symbol of excess.
8. Jimmy Carter pulled the US out of the Olympics
The Cold War period witnessed many symbolic stand-offs between the United States and the Soviet Union. An excellent example is the way each country handled the Olympic Games and used the appearance (or lack thereof) of their athletes to make a point.
In 1980, after the Soviet Union refused to pull troops out of Afghanistan, Jimmy Carter refused to allow the US squad to attend the Olympics in Moscow. This was the first time that the US would not be represented at the Games, and it led to around 50 other states following their lead, including West Germany, Canada and Japan, an interesting fact about Jimmy Carter.
In turn, the Soviet Union boycotted the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games.
9. A rabbit ruined his image
There was one “public image” incident which is considered to have really affected the perception of Jimmy Carter before the 1980 election, and subsequently to have been part of the reason he wasn’t re-elected. While on a fishing trip in Plains, near his home, Jimmy Carter had a wild rabbit jump into his boat after being chased by hounds. Carter tried to shoo the animal away, but a photo showing him quite clumsy in doing so made the news, as did many cartoons mocking him for looking helpless. He was made to appear a weak adversary to the Soviet Union at a time when the Cold War was at its worst, so this could have been an important factor in Carter losing re-election.
10. He’s a water sports lover
In line with Carter’s active persona, he’s also a great water sports lover and has been on kayaks, canoes and rafts on Georgia rivers during his lifetime.
Here you have them – the most 10 interesting facts about Jimmy Carter, the former US President who was unassuming, cared about the environment, and made a massive difference in the world after his term ended and Ronald Reagan took over in office.
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