Jesse Ventura Says Wrestlers Are Not Independent Contractors, Talks Vince McMahon Lawsuit, His Biggest Payday in Wrestling, ‘Marijuana Manifesto’

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Photo Credit: Getty Images

WWE Hall of Famer and former Governor of Minnesota Jesse Ventura appeared on this week’s episode of The Steve Austin Show to promote his new book, Jesse Ventura’s Marijuana Manifesto, as well as talk about all kinds of topics with “Stone Cold” himself.

Below are transcripts from Austin’s podcast, which you can check out in full at

On the fallacy of pro wrestlers being independent contractors: 

“Vince is lucky I didn’t go for the Senate. Had I got into the Senate I would have started a Senatorial investigation into why professional wrestlers are called ‘independent contractors’ when they’re not. You work for one company,t hey order you around, they control your whole life. How are you possibly an independent contractor, except they don’t have to pay your social security.” … “Look at the thousands of dollars it’s cost all of us wrestlers to have to pay fifteen-percent, or whatever it is, as independent contractor on our taxes. That’s a bee that’s been under my saddle since I began wrestling. We are not independent contractors. I can’t work for another promoter on Wednesday, and then work for you on Friday, it don’t work that way.”

Ventura also tells a story about how he tried to start a wrestling union with the boys in the locker room, but was sold out to Vince McMahon, who then threatened to fire him. Years later in his trial with Vince, he found out it was Hulk Hogan who allegedly ratted to the boss. 

“In the trial we go the records of Wrestlemania III. The big one. [Hulk Hogan] and Andre [the Giant]. Hogan got more than all of us combined, including Andre. If you took the payoffs of Andre and the whole rest of the card, Hogan made more than we did. So naturally he didn’t a union, that could even out the money a little more. He sold us out because he was getting taken care of, and he didn’t want nobody else horning in on the good deal he had.”

On the biggest pay day he ever got in his pro wrestling career at SummerSlam 1999: 

“The biggest pay day I ever received in wrestling when when I refereed the match in Minneapolis. As a wrestler, how can I say my biggest payoff was being a referee? I’m a wrestler! Those are the old washed up guys or the guys who couldn’t wrestle in the first place that want to be in the business. No offense to the referees, but here I’m getting the biggest payoff I’ve ever gotten in my life, and it’s because I was a ref? That part of it was hard to take. The money was great!”

The reason he wrote his new book, Jesse Ventura’s Marijuana Manifesto: 

“I had someone very close to me developed epileptic seizures, and was seizing three to four times a week. Not only was this person’s quality of life gone, so was mine. If you’ve ever had to deal with a person with seizures, it’s hopeless. You don’t know what you can do. You want to do something, and there’s nothing you can do to bring them back until the seizure runs its course. Our quality of life was gone. The person went to the doctor, got put on four different pharmaceutical medicines, none of them worked. The seizures continued and all the pharmaceuticals had horrible side effects – one of them was hair falling out.  Finally in desperation, we went to Colorado. We got what they call medical marijuana, three drops under the tongue three times a day. It’s now in pill form, one pill the morning, one pill at night. This person is completely off seizure pharma medicine now, and has been seizure free for two and a half years. It cured her. I owe my life, and my later golden years, to marijuana. So I’ve now made it a focus that I want to see it legal across America before I die. There’s other people out there suffering.”

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