How The Conspiracy That JFK Jr. Is Still Alive Gained So Much Momentum

On November 2, 2021, hundreds of people gathered at the site where President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, located at Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas. They expected to witness something truly incredible: The resurrection of the president's late son, John F. Kennedy Jr.

As reported by Rolling Stone, on the day of the unusual gathering, the crowd descended on the Plaza from all corners because they believed that Kennedy Jr. was ready to unveil himself as still living. All of this, even though he died tragically in a plane crash in 1999, alongside his wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and his sister-in-law Lauren Bessette, as noted by History. But the crowd believed that he was still alive and ready to re-enter public life in perhaps a bizarre way.

According to the same source, Kennedy Jr. was expected by the crowd to take his rightful place as vice president to Donald Trump. The crowd believed that Trump was due to be announced as the president and ready to return to the office. All of this despite that Kennedy Jr., like his father, was a lifelong Democrat and Trump is a leader of the far-right Republican contingency. Kennedy Jr. failed to show, though many attendees postulated that he might be ready to make an appearance at a Rolling Stones gig that night. He didn't arrive then, either. So why exactly did so many people subscribe to such an idea? The answer lies in one of the most unusual but nevertheless prevalent set of conspiracy theories of modern times: QAnon.

A QAnon-related phenomenon

As noted by Rolling Stone, the majority of those who congregated in Dealey Plaza that day were affiliated with or believers in the QAnon conspiracy theory. Per The New York Times (NYT), QAnon first emerged in late 2017 on the notorious 4chan messaging board through a series of cryptic messages posted by an anonymous user known only as 'Q.'

Per NYT, believers in the conspiracy theory have taken to interpreting postings by Q as insider information from a source inside the U.S. government, who claims that many prominent politicians are involved in a cabal that is based around satanic rituals and child trafficking (these are assertions made without any quantifiable evidence). The same theory claims that the only force capable of battling such a cabal is Donald Trump, who followers claim communicates with QAnon adherents through cryptic messages of his own, often hidden in his speeches.

So how does John F. Kennedy Jr. fit into all of this? According to Rolling Stone, QAnon claims that rather than having been dead for more than 20 years, Kennedy Jr. is in hiding and has been biding his time until the pieces are in place for him to join Trump in battling the alleged cabal.

The family tree of U.S. politics (according to QAnon)

Following the gathering of hundreds of QAnon believers in Dealey Plaza in Dallas, Texas, in November 2022, MSNBC ran a report highlighting the group's belief that John F. Kennedy Jr. was due for a return to the political stage alongside Trump (pictured).

In it, host Rachel Maddow introduced footage of two prominent figures in the QAnon movement, Mike Penny and a man who goes by the moniker M.L. They outlined the movement's conviction about how Trump is related to the Kennedy family (though this has been proven false). According to the clip, the group believes that Trump is the secret son of General Patton and, through him, is a cousin of John F. Kennedy Jr. The same clip also claims that Patton was the grandson of Lincoln and that he was related to Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini. They also assert that Joseph Kennedy — the brother of President John F. Kennedy, who died in World War II — was the father of former National Security Advisor Michael Flynn.

"It's all about the bloodline," said M.L., claiming a sprawling lineage between disparate wings of American politics without a shred of evidence. Meanwhile, outlets such as NPR have reported that spreading conspiracy theories such as QAnon is increasingly "tearing families apart."

8kun, Q, and JFK Jr.

Journalist Ben Collins, who appeared on Rachel Maddow's MSNBC report, shared his shock that so many people from across the country turned out for the November 2021 gathering, believing John F. Kennedy Jr. would reveal himself after more than two decades in hiding.

As Collins noted, the belief in the reemergence of Kennedy Jr. and his installation as the vice president for Donald Trump is notable for being unusual even among QAnon followers. According to The Independent, the conspiracy surrounding Kennedy Jr. is believed by about 20% of QAnon followers. Among those that believe it, some followers also subscribe to the idea that Kennedy Jr. has appeared in public in the guise of Trump. They claim that he has been hiding in Pittsburgh for years or that he is, in fact, the originator of the whole movement as the 4chan user known as 'Q.'

Per Rolling Stone, the theory emerged through cryptic 4chan posts by a user known as 'R,' that suggested Kennedy Jr. faked his death as a result of the alleged Washington D.C. satanic conspiracy targeting him. The idea that Kennedy Jr. was alive quickly took on a life of its own and merged into prior unsubstantiated beliefs spread by 'Q.' This was so much so that the poster after whom the conspiracy theory is named took to the message board to discredit — ironically — the sub-theory as bogus (via Twitter).