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Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Launching gubernatorial bids, making presidential endorsements, founding schools: Celebrities are getting increasingly involved in U.S. public and political life.

Why it matters: As we've reported, politics is no longer just the purview of career politicians, as companies and their CEOs throw their weight around to affect policies. Now, movie stars, famous musicians and professional athletes also are using their influence in politics.

  • "You could write the same book on celebrity in politics as you could write on business in politics," says David Jackson, a political science professor at Bowling Green State University.

What's happening: While we've seen celebrity presidents before — most notably Ronald Reagan — they've held lower elected offices before making it to the White House. Donald Trump's victory represented a paradigm shift, Jackson says: "He went straight from the tabloids of New York to the presidency, with no previous experience."

  • "That certainly established a precedent for a new route to the presidency that we have yet to see if others will take," he says.

Celebrities are running for office at every level — and some have a real shot, polls indicate.

According to a recent survey by the consumer research platform Piplsay, 63% of Americans believe Hollywood stars can make good politicians "with the right attitude and support staff."

  • Actor Matthew McConaughey has said he's "measuring" a run for Texas governor. And a recent Dallas Morning News/University of Texas at Tyler poll put him ahead of incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott.
  • Former Olympic athlete and Caitlyn Jenner recently made a run for California governor.
  • In the Piplsay poll, 58% said they'd support Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as a presidential candidate. Another 30% said they'd like to see Angelina Jolie run for the top job, and 22% said Tom Hanks.

Stars are also participating in public life in other ways.

The big picture: The popularity of celebrities in politics is part of a larger trend of distrust in government, Bowling Green's Jackson says.

  • "The general belief that a lot of Americans have is that people who are not career politicians are somehow more qualified and less tainted than those who’ve spent their careers in politics," he says.
  • And celebrities have the advantage of huge name recognition, while being Washington outsiders.

But, but, but: That very lack of experience has led celebrity pols to fail in the past, FiveThirtyEight's Alex Samuels reports.

The bottom line: While past celebrity politicos may have been anomalies, today's famous folk are emboldened by their star power in the age of social media and encouraged by the success of predecessors. Look for their presence to keep rising.

Go deeper

Arkansas Poll: Residents bummed on outlook

Data: Arkansas Poll. Chart: Axios Visuals

Arkansans are more pessimistic about their financial future than they were during the recession, according to results of the Arkansas Poll released yesterday.

  • The likely reason has more to do with politics than the economy, U of A political science professor Janine Parry told Axios.

Why it matters: The annual poll provides a snapshot of how residents feel about current events, politics, policy and political figures.

Updated 15 hours ago - Sports

The potential GOAT of chess faces intriguing challenger

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The World Chess Championship between Norway's Magnus Carlsen and Russia's Ian Nepomniachtchi began on Friday, 1,094 days after Carlsen won his fourth consecutive title.

Why it matters: During the long, COVID-fueled layoff, chess entered a new era, and with the championship finally here, the age-old game is ready for its close-up.

Department of Interior proposes raising cost of drilling on public lands

A horizontal drilling rig and a pump jack sit on federal land in Lea County, New Mexico. Photo: Callaghan O'Hare/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Oil and gas companies should pay more to drill on federal lands and waters, the Department of the Interior argued in a report released Friday, saying that the current rates were "outdated."

Driving the news: The Department of Interior report said that the federal government's oil and gas leasing and permitting program "fails to provide a fair return to taxpayers, even before factoring in the resulting climate-related costs that must be borne by taxpayers."