How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (2024)

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John D. McEntee II was born on March 9, 1990. He grew up in Anaheim, California, in a Republican-voting family, although it wasn't overly politically active. It was a religious family, and McEntee was an alter boy for years. McEntee's footballing talents became clear early on. He was a star athlete at Servite High School, where he threw 1,525 yards as a senior. The family's palatial home has a painting of McEntee in the billiard room throwing a pass. His father is a successful producer, manager, and agent who books stars from Snoop Dogg to Bette Midler for Las Vegas casinos and Fortune 500 companies — meaning McEntee grew up around celebrities, which helped later in his career. McEntee went to the University of Connecticut, where he was known as "Johnny." He declined a scholarship, knowing his father could afford his tuition. He got a position on the football team, and became a starting quarterback. In 2011, he won the Joseph M. Giannelli Unsung Hero Award for his efforts. That same year, McEntee starred in a video titled "Johnny Mac Trick Shot Quarterback". The video of him making impressive football shots went viral, getting 7 million views, and was featured on CNN. In 2012, he graduated with a communications degree. He spent the summer focusing on football training, but he didn't get a contract with any NFL teams. Soon after, he become a production assistant at Fox News, where he focused on the network's social media accounts. He was still at Fox News when he emailed Trump's campaign repeatedly, asking for a role. When he got no response, he said the campaign needed someone to respond to the sorts of emails he was sending. He said that someone could be him. His email worked. He started as a volunteer, but was quickly hired. By August 2015, he snagged a full-time job as Trump's trip director. "I bought into the message," he said of the Trump campaign at the time. "I was sick of the career politicians." Politico reported that McEntee told another Trump staffer he had never heard a a politician "be so straightforward or speak so honestly about the country's problems." His father told Politico the family was shocked he went into politics. "We thought he missed his calling as a priest," he said. As Trump campaigned from Trump Tower, McEntee was known as an uplifting presence. Along with working hard, he also had a sense of humor — he played on a hover-board, and accepted a challenge to do 100 push ups in 90 seconds. It was McEntee's job on the road to make sure Trump got McDonalds, or KFC, when the candidate didn't like food provided by fundraisers. He also had to learn what TV channels Trump liked at certain times of the day. After the election, Trump awarded McEntee with a job as his personal aide in the White House. The position is sometimes called "bag man" because McEntee was responsible for the president's belongings. He was the staffer who met the president in the morning in the White House residence, and the last to see him off every night. He also prepared papers for the president's speeches. He made a salary of $115,000 in fiscal year 2017. The top salary for White House staffers then was $179,700. McEntee was very close to the president. He was one of few staffers who could get their calls answered on the first ring. McEntee was known as a reliable staffer despite his low profile outside the White House. "Johnny got it," former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told Politico. "Whatever we needed, it didn't matter: He was on it." Amid a constantly shifting staff, McEntee was able to hold onto his position close to the president. His football background helped. The pair could bond over sports small talk. McEntee's humor continued onto Air Force One. He liked write notes to other staffers with Trump's signature, which he perfected, only to reveal that he wrote them all along. Another staffer told Politico it was all in good fun. But in May 2018, McEntee's luck ran out. Then-chief of staff John Kelly ordered him to be removed over serious financial concerns. The Wall Street Journal reported the investigation included online gambling, where he made individual bets worth tens of thousands of dollars, and incorrectly filing his taxes. He also couldn't pass his background check, so he didn't have permanent security clearance. He was escorted from the White House without a chance to collect his things, or a jacket. McEntee was "very upset," to be fired, according to the Washington Post, and said he hadn't done anything wrong. But officials were wary his reported gambling habits could make him vulnerable to influences outside the White House. It didn't dent his career for long. Within 24 hours, Trump's 2020 reelection campaign had rehired him as thesenior adviser for campaign operations. His close connection to the president paid off. In December 2019, reports began to circulate that McEntee was going to get another chance in the White House. As Trump grew more concerned with "never-Trumpers," he wanted his trusted aides close. In February 2020, McEntee was announced as the new director of the Presidential Personnel Office, meaning he chooses who to hire and who gets fired. His focus, according to Axios and CNN, was to identify staffers who were disloyal to Trump. These were primarily political appointments, not career staffers. In late February, McEntee hired 23-year-old James Bacon, an undergraduate, to work directly under him. Bacon, who worked for McEntee during Trump's presidential campaign, replaced Katja Bullock, who was more than 50 years older than him. McEntee might be back in the White House, in an even more senior position, but he's no longer the freshest face in the administration. References

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Michal Kranz and James Pasley

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How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (1)

  • John McEntee, 29, is the new director of the Presidential Personnel Office. His job is to identify staffers who aren't loyal to President Donald Trump, and to hire people who are.
  • McEntee first tasted fame in college in 2011, when a video he made of football tricks went viral. It's racked up 7 million views.
  • Out of college, he worked briefly at Fox News before joining Trump's 2016 presidential campaign. When Trump was elected, he entered the White House as his personal assistant.
  • McEntee was removed from the White House in 2018 over security clearance and finance issues. Now, he's back in Trump's administration.
  • Visit Business Insider's homepage for more stories.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (2)

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John McEntee has reason to smile. At 29, he's one of President Donald Trump's most trusted aides.

From the outside, McEntee's life hasn't been geared toward a position in the White House. In 2011, he had a moment of fame after making a viral video displaying his football skills. He also had a brief stint working in social media at Fox News.

What set him on the path to the White House was joining Trump's campaign early on, alongside Jared Kushner and Stephen Miller. In the White House, he became Trump's personal assistant or "bag man."

Despite his hard work, in 2018, he was escorted out of the president's residence amid a financial-crimes investigation. He was not allowed to collect his things, or grab his jacket.

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But because Trump valued his loyalty, within 24 hours, the president's 2020 reelection campaign rehired him as the senior adviser for campaign operations.

Now he's back in the White House as the director of the Presidential Personnel Office, rooting out appointees who aren't loyal to the president.

Here's how a young, viral football star ended up next to one of the most powerful men in the world.

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John D. McEntee II was born on March 9, 1990. He grew up in Anaheim, California, in a Republican-voting family, although it wasn't overly politically active. It was a religious family, and McEntee was an alter boy for years.

Sources: Max Preps, Politico

McEntee's footballing talents became clear early on. He was a star athlete at Servite High School, where he threw 1,525 yards as a senior. The family's palatial home has a painting of McEntee in the billiard room throwing a pass.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (6)

Sources: Max Preps, TEI Entertainment, The Orange County Register

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His father is a successful producer, manager, and agent who books stars from Snoop Dogg to Bette Midler for Las Vegas casinos and Fortune 500 companies — meaning McEntee grew up around celebrities, which helped later in his career.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (7)

Sources: TEI Entertainment, The Orange County Register

McEntee went to the University of Connecticut, where he was known as "Johnny." He declined a scholarship, knowing his father could afford his tuition. He got a position on the football team, and became a starting quarterback. In 2011, he won the Joseph M. Giannelli Unsung Hero Award for his efforts.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (8)

Sources: People, The Daily Campus, UConn, Politico

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That same year, McEntee starred in a video titled "Johnny Mac Trick Shot Quarterback". The video of him making impressive football shots went viral, getting 7 million views, and was featured on CNN.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (9)

Sources: CNN, YouTube, USA Today

In 2012, he graduated with a communications degree. He spent the summer focusing on football training, but he didn't get a contract with any NFL teams. Soon after, he become a production assistant at Fox News, where he focused on the network's social media accounts.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (10)

Sources: People, Politico

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He was still at Fox News when he emailed Trump's campaign repeatedly, asking for a role. When he got no response, he said the campaign needed someone to respond to the sorts of emails he was sending. He said that someone could be him.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (11)

Sources: People, Politico, Hartford Courant

His email worked. He started as a volunteer, but was quickly hired. By August 2015, he snagged a full-time job as Trump's trip director.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (12)

Sources: People, Politico

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"I bought into the message," he said of the Trump campaign at the time. "I was sick of the career politicians." Politico reported that McEntee told another Trump staffer he had never heard a a politician "be so straightforward or speak so honestly about the country's problems."

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (13)

Sources: People, Politico, Hartford Courant

His father told Politico the family was shocked he went into politics. "We thought he missed his calling as a priest," he said.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (14)

Source: Politico

As Trump campaigned from Trump Tower, McEntee was known as an uplifting presence. Along with working hard, he also had a sense of humor — he played on a hover-board, and accepted a challenge to do 100 push ups in 90 seconds.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (15)

Source: Politico

It was McEntee's job on the road to make sure Trump got McDonalds, or KFC, when the candidate didn't like food provided by fundraisers. He also had to learn what TV channels Trump liked at certain times of the day.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (16)

Source: Politico

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After the election, Trump awarded McEntee with a job as his personal aide in the White House.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (17)

Source: Politico

The position is sometimes called "bag man" because McEntee was responsible for the president's belongings. He was the staffer who met the president in the morning in the White House residence, and the last to see him off every night.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (18)

Source: Politico

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He also prepared papers for the president's speeches.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (19)

He made a salary of $115,000 in fiscal year 2017. The top salary for White House staffers then was $179,700.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (20)

Source: White House

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McEntee was very close to the president. He was one of few staffers who could get their calls answered on the first ring.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (21)

Source: Politico

McEntee was known as a reliable staffer despite his low profile outside the White House. "Johnny got it," former campaign manager Corey Lewandowski told Politico. "Whatever we needed, it didn't matter: He was on it."

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (22)

Source: Politico

Advertisem*nt

Amid a constantly shifting staff, McEntee was able to hold onto his position close to the president. His football background helped. The pair could bond over sports small talk.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (23)

Source: Politico

McEntee's humor continued onto Air Force One. He liked write notes to other staffers with Trump's signature, which he perfected, only to reveal that he wrote them all along. Another staffer told Politico it was all in good fun.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (24)

Source: Politico

Advertisem*nt

But in May 2018, McEntee's luck ran out. Then-chief of staff John Kelly ordered him to be removed over serious financial concerns. The Wall Street Journal reported the investigation included online gambling, where he made individual bets worth tens of thousands of dollars, and incorrectly filing his taxes.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (25)

Sources: Business Insider, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post

He also couldn't pass his background check, so he didn't have permanent security clearance. He was escorted from the White House without a chance to collect his things, or a jacket.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (26)

Sources: Business Insider, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Axios

Advertisem*nt

McEntee was "very upset," to be fired, according to the Washington Post, and said he hadn't done anything wrong. But officials were wary his reported gambling habits could make him vulnerable to influences outside the White House.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (27)

Source: Washington Post

It didn't dent his career for long. Within 24 hours, Trump's 2020 reelection campaign had rehired him as thesenior adviser for campaign operations. His close connection to the president paid off.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (28)

Source:CNN

Advertisem*nt

In December 2019, reports began to circulate that McEntee was going to get another chance in the White House. As Trump grew more concerned with "never-Trumpers," he wanted his trusted aides close.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (29)

Sources: The New York Times, Axios

In February 2020, McEntee was announced as the new director of the Presidential Personnel Office, meaning he chooses who to hire and who gets fired. His focus, according to Axios and CNN, was to identify staffers who were disloyal to Trump. These were primarily political appointments, not career staffers.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (30)

Sources: Axios, CNN

Advertisem*nt

In late February, McEntee hired 23-year-old James Bacon, an undergraduate, to work directly under him. Bacon, who worked for McEntee during Trump's presidential campaign, replaced Katja Bullock, who was more than 50 years older than him.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (31)

Sources: Politico, The Hill, Insider

McEntee might be back in the White House, in an even more senior position, but he's no longer the freshest face in the administration.

How Trump's 29-year-old former 'bag man' went from making a viral football video to heading the Presidential Personnel Office and rooting out disloyal staff (32)

Sources: Politico, The Hill

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