"It came out of the blue, and it was one after the other," The Rock told Trevor Noah on Thursday, adding that each party insisted he'd "be a real contender" if he ever launched a campaign
Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson has long flirted with the idea of running for president — but when multiple parties approached him about launching a White House bid last year, the reality that he could possibly become commander-in-chief seemingly took him off guard.
On the inaugural episode of Trevor Noah's new podcast, What Now? with Trevor Noah, the former Daily Show host asked Johnson, 51, about a widely reported 2021 poll revealing that 46% of U.S. adults would support him as a presidential candidate.
"I remember seeing that. I was like, Damn," Noah, 39, said. "I mean, it either means you are the paragon of what people would hope a leader would be, or it means things have gotten so bad that they are like, We need somebody who's going to come in here and lay the smack down on everybody."
Johnson, who has been asked about the poll several times before, told Noah that he was "blown away" when he realized how enthusiastic some people are about the prospect of him entering politics — then the Black Adam actor dropped a bombshell, revealing that political power brokers have already reached out behind closed doors to try and convince him to take the idea seriously.
Elaborating, Johnson said that in late 2022, "I got a visit from the parties. They asked me if I was going to run and if I could run — and it was a big deal. And it came out of the blue, and it was one after the other."
While he didn't specify which political parties approached him — or how many — he said that each of them brought up the 2021 poll as evidence for why he'd make a good candidate, adding, "They also brought up their own deep-dive research and data that would prove, should I ever decide to go down that road, that I would be a real contender."
"It was all very surreal because that's never been my goal. My goal has never been to be in politics," he continued. "And in fact, there's a lot about politics that I hate.”
Through conversations with party officials, Johnson said, he began thinking about his three daughters — ages 5, 7 and 22 — and how running for office would risk putting family time on the back burner.
"I know what it's like to have that separation and not be there for the birthdays, not be there for the pickups, the drop-offs and everything else," he told Noah, acknowledging that he missed important moments with his oldest daughter, Simone, who was born during the height of his wrestling career. "I didn't want that. I don't want that for my little ones now."
Though PEOPLE's former Sexiest Man Alive implied that he has no intention to run for president right now, he left the door open for a future campaign if public pressure ever were to mount.
"If that's ultimately what the people would want," Johnson told Noah in a serious tone, "then of course I would consider it."
Johnson has not publicly identified with a party, describing himself in 2020 as a "political independent & centrist" and sharing that he's voted for both major parties before as he endorsed the Biden-Harris Democratic ticket.
The celebrity to politician pipeline is well-established at this point. Ronald Reagan, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Al Franken and Donald Trump successfully made the leap into lawmaking, and plenty more have tried (see: Dr. Oz, Cynthia Nixon, Herschel Walker, Caitlyn Jenner, Clay Aiken, Ben Savage, even Shirley Temple).
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