Arnold Schwarzenegger Shares the Initial Reactions After He Decided to Run for Governor: “You Crazy…You Gonna Turn Down This $20,000,000… This Is Insane”

Published 10/30/2023, 7:00 AM EDT

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Bodybuilding legend Arnold Schwarzenegger started his acting career after he felt satisfied with his bodybuilding achievements. While the Austrian struggled initially, Conan the Barbarian (1982) turned out to be Arnie’s breakthrough role. In 1997, Schwarzenegger reportedly earned over $20 million for playing Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin. So when the bodybuilding icon announced he would run for governor a few years later, people were shocked.

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However, the seven-time Mr. Olympia had good reason for doing so. Now, decades later, Arnie has opened up about people’s initial reactions and his motive.

Arnold Schwarzenegger wanted to make a difference

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The Austrian Oak arrived in America in 1968. Within a few years, Schwarzenegger learned English, started a construction business, enrolled in university, and became a bodybuilding champion. Over the years, Arnie earned the love of millions of Americans through bodybuilding and Hollywood. So, in 2003, Schwarzenegger aimed to make a difference for the people who loved him.

“Doing something for your neighborhood, for your city, for your country is always important,” Schwarzenegger said while speaking at The 92nd Street Y, New York. This sense of duty toward the country that had given him everything drove the action star. “People say that you crazy,” the 76-year-old said.

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“You’re going to turn down this $20 million, two movies a year. And you’re going to be stuck in Sacramento for seven years? This is insane!” Arnold mentioned this while explaining how people reacted to his decision. However, the bodybuilding icon didn’t think about financial gain. “The money that I have made I made because of America, so it was time to give something back,” Schwarzenegger said. As governor, Schwarzenegger did something that hardly any politician would have done.

Schwarzenegger relinquishing earnings as a public servant

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The 76-year-old fitness icon earned millions upon millions from acting. He also earned millions through investing, sponsorships, and business ventures. Hence, the star, with a net worth of $450 million, had no intention of earning money through politics. Arnie refused his governor’s salary because he wished to serve California, and minting money was not his priority.

Arnold Schwarzenegger once called his governor’s salary “petty cash,” in reference to his noble intentions. However, the Governator’s salary was far from petty, and Schwarzenegger rejected $187,000. The Terminator star served for two terms as Governor of California and refused his salary for both terms. Instead, the 76-year-old wanted to use it to help others.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger came to the States and got to live his American dream. Hence, he started giving back as soon as he was in a position to do so. What do you think of Schwarzenegger’s political journey?

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Written by:

Sagnik Bagchi

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Sagnik Bagchi is a senior sports writer at EssentiallySports who writes for the bodybuilding division. Holding a Master's Degree in English Literature from a top university, he uses his hold on language to weave interesting stories for our readers. A passionate bodybuilder himself, Sagnik uses his knowledge of bodybuilding to bring a unique perspective to his coverage of the sport’s events and athletes.
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Edited by:

Simar Singh Wadhwa

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