How Vicente Fox became a s**t-talking YouTube folk hero

Vicente Fox Quesada is perhaps the last person you’d expect to be a YouTube star. At 75, the former President of Mexico and Coca-Cola executive favors tailored suits and enjoys talking about his foundation, CentroFox, which he runs with his wife Marta.

But he’s also a wildly popular social media presence, to the extent that he won a Webby Award this week for his videos poking fun at President Donald Trump.

In one video, Fox announces his candidacy for the 2020 presidential race, saying that his Mexican citizenship shouldn’t be a barrier: “If that worn-out baseball glove tightly gripping a turd can become president, anyone can,” he says.

Each video has around a million views—not in the same league as Logan Paul or Jenna Marbles, but not bad for someone who left office in 2006. The videos are produced by Super Deluxe, a Turner Broadcasting-owned entertainment company known for its subversive and viral comedy, and inspired by Fox’s tweets during the 2016 campaign and throughout the Trump presidency.  Many of the tweets had to do with the infamous border wall and Trump’s insistence that Mexico would pay for it.

TRUMP,  when will you understand that I am not paying for that fucken wall. Be clear with US tax payers. They will pay for it,” reads one from January 2017.

According to Fox, he’s not in it for the awards or the limelight. He’s genuinely worried about America.

“I don’t want to see this nation running away from leading the world. I don’t want to see this nation enclosed in four walls,” he tells the Daily Dot.

His own grandfather, he said, was born in America, which explains his earnest affection for the country. Mexico’s economy could likewise be greatly damaged under a Trump presidency if North American trade negotiations continue to twist in the wind. So Fox has chosen to fight Trump with his own favorite weapon—social media.

“This guy is obsessed with power. He needs power because he has some type of a psychological complex,” Fox says. In a video shown at the Webby Awards, Fox makes a jab at Trump’s psychology, suggesting Trump’s need for power and attention are the results of a distant and uncaring father.

Fox says that he sees echoes of the despotic leadership that characterized 20th-century Latin American politics in Trump.

“We in Latin America know about populist leaders, we know about authoritarian leaders, we know about dictators […] and we have learned our lesson,” he says.

Fox is also busily campaigning in the upcoming Mexican elections, trying desperately to ensure that the leftist Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, with whom he has a long-standing rivalry, doesn’t win the July 1 vote.

“Now it happens to be that Mexico’s facing the same dilemma. Out of the three candidates, one is a populist, he’s a demagogue,” said Fox, referring to Lopez Obrador.

Fox, who ran and governed as a right-leaning populist, saw Lopez Obrador as such a threat that he tried to get him deposed as mayor of Mexico City, and tried to bar him from running in the 2006 presidential contest. Fox even has a Trump-like nickname for Lopez Obrador, “Lopitos,” a diminution of his surname.

According to polls, Lopez Obrador has a double-digit lead over his next-closest opponent.

When Fox himself left office after his six-year term, he was still fairly popular. However, a 2007 investigation into his personal wealth damaged his reputation as an earnest, straightforward rancher. Now, with a new book and viral popularity, Fox seems to be using his time in the pop zeitgeist as a chance to cement his legacy.

“I think he’s really sincere,” adds Super Deluxe executive producer Jason Richards.

At the Webby Awards, there are dozens of winners, and to fit each award in the allotted time, each winner’s acceptance speech must be five words or fewer. It’s no problem for the former Mexican president: “Climb wall to come over.”

Tune into Sunday’s episode of the We’re All Gonna Die podcast for the Daily Dot’s extended conversation with Fox.

Ellen Ioanes

Ellen Ioanes

Ellen Ioanes is the FOIA reporter at the Daily Dot, where she covers U.S. politics. She is a graduate of Columbia Journalism School, and her work has appeared in the Guardian, the Center for Public Integrity, HuffPost India, and more.