If you’ve been watching American Idol this season, you’ve probably noticed the show’s “in-house mentor” Bobby Bones. He was promoted to full-time mentor after a guest appearance last season, and can be seen chatting with contestants after their performances.
However, you might be wondering just who this Bobby Bones is (and if that’s his real name). Since he’ll be choosing songs for the contestants to perform in this Sunday’s new episode, we thought it would be the perfect time to share some facts about him.
1. Bobby Bones isn’t his real name.
You probably could have guessed this, but Bones isn’t his real last name. Instead, he was born Bobby Estell. So where did he get his stage name? He told Today in 2016 that it comes from a time in eighth grade when his shorts tore during wrestling. He says the kids gave him the nickname “T-Bone.” Whether that’s true or not is up to you to decide.
2. He had a difficult childhood.
Bobby’s mother was 15 years old when she had him, and his father left them when he was 5 or 6. His mother struggled with drug and alcohol abuse, and he was adopted and co-parented by his grandmother.
“I would see her drunk. Wouldn’t really understand it, but I would see her drunk,” Bobby told the Tennessean of his mom. “It was just normal for her to not be around sometimes.” Bobby’s mother passed away in 2011, when she was only in her 40s.
3. He hosts a radio show.
If you didn’t know what Bobby was famous for, this is it. He’s been hosting radio shows since he was a teenager. He currently hosts The Bobby Bones Show, which is focused on country music and features interviews with stars like Luke Bryan. The show originates from WSIX-FM in Nashville and is syndicated through iHeartRadio.
4. He’s in a band.
Bobby and his producer Eddie started a band called The Raging Idiots. They’ve performed for charity and released an album in 2016 called The Critics Give It 5 Stars. It included the single “If I Was Your Boyfriend.” The band’s songs have humorous lyrics. Other titles include “Chick-Fil-a (… But It’s Sunday)” and “We Can’t Stand Each Other” (which featured Carrie Underwood).
5. He won Dancing with the Stars.
Bobby competed on Season 27 of DWTS last year, with professional dance partner Sharna Burgess. They ended up winning the competition, with the Chicago Tribune calling it the “biggest upset” in the show’s history. Even Bobby admitted, “I’m not here because of my scores. I’m here because of my people.” It just goes to show how important voting is on these shows.
6. He has experience as a talent show judge.
7. He’s written two best-selling books.
Bobby published Bare Bones: I’m Not Lonely If You’re Reading This Book in 2016 and Fail Until You Don’t: Fight. Grind. Repeat in 2018. Both books were New York Times Best Sellers and focused on stories from his life.
8. He spent $13,000 on a publicity stunt.
In 2014, Bobby put up four billboards in Nashville which read, “Go Away Bobby Bones.” Since ratings for his radio show weren’t great, the host decided this might drum up attention.
“What I’d done is created a company which paid another company which I’d created which paid the billboard company,” he explained. “So there was no way to track it back to me…And people couldn’t figure out.” He later revealed it in his book.
9. He wants to run for president.
Bobby is interested in entering politics, recently telling People that he hopes to one day be the governor of his home state of Arkansas, or maybe even U.S. president.
“I don’t even like saying I want to be a politician because it’s such a grody word,” he said. “I feel the only way I’m going to win is if they see me as them – ‘cause that’s the only reason I’ve been able to do anything so far.”
Bobby, who has said he’s a registered independent, has talked about running for Arkansas governor in previous interviews and on Twitter.
10. He filled in for Ryan Seacrest as American Idol host.
Earlier this season, Ryan Seacrest called in sick for the first time in the show’s 17-season run. Bobby Bones filled in as host. According to a TV Line poll, most viewers either didn’t notice Ryan was gone or actually preferred Bobby as a host.
This begs the question of whether Bobby might replace Ryan in future seasons. If that’s the case, aren’t you glad you learned a few things about him first?