Maybe it was the red Izod sweater and khakis paired with the white-on-white shirt and tie combo. Maybe it was the disposable camera. Maybe it was the way he delivered his question with the calm, confident demeanor of a contestant in a beauty pageant.
Whatever it was, Ken Bone won the hearts and minds of Americans during Sunday night's debate.
One such heart belonged to Rory Allen, owner of Buffalo print shop ZoomCopy.com. He saw that face, those glasses, that mustache and had an idea. He went to his print shop, put his nose to the grindstone and came out an hour later with the Ken Bone Waving Machine. It's a waterproof vinyl cutout of Bone's head and shoulders that adheres to a car's rear window. A separate, red-sweatered, plastic arm zip ties to the rear wiper blade. When the wiper is turned on, it appears that the friendly Ken Bone is waving directly at you.
Allen put a video of the waving machine on Facebook and it garnered more than 7,000 views in less than 24 hours. He put it up for sale around midnight and almost immediately sold one to a man in Maryland. It retails for $49.99.
Allen could barely stop giggling while talking about it. He never meant to make a real business out of selling the product, he said. After all, $50 is a lot to spend on a visual reference that could end up in next week's pop culture dustbin, he admits.
"It's ridiculous. I can't believe we're having this conversation," he laughed.
So why Ken Bone?
"He looks like a character from a TV show, like something out of 'The Office,' " Allen said. "It was like a sideshow to an already ridiculous debate," he said about the social media buzz that ensued.
But there's a deeper reason. Allen insists he's not making fun of Bone; he holds him up as a bright spot in the midst of a very low point in American politics.
"This has been a long election cycle for everybody. I was watching that debate almost sick. And then this guy comes up and makes the whole thing a little lighter," he said. "We just tried to add to it."
Allen said he has tried to contact Bone to give him a cut of any profits, but hasn't been able to reach him.
Bone, an undecided voter in the audience at Sunday's debate, became a household name just seconds after asking the presidential candidates a question about energy. Memes and gifs sprang up almost instantaneously, tweets came fast and furious. Many hailed Bone as a hero. Others vowed to dress like him for Halloween. The Daily Show host Trevor Noah called him "a one man basket of adorables."
Tonight.. A star was born. World, meet Kenneth Bone. Ken Bone, meet the world. https://t.co/O9zMvjicmh
— Jordie 🔵 (@BarstoolJordie) October 10, 2016
No biggie, just our man Ken Bone snapping some pics on his disposable camera, living his best life https://t.co/R1wtQepSvS
— Parker Molloy (@ParkerMolloy) October 10, 2016
— Toby Huss (@tobyhuss) October 10, 2016
if ken bone 👨🏻n my girl👸🏼😍 both drowning😱🌊 n i can only save one😤
catch me at my girl funeral😔👻🌹looking fitted in a red sweater 😂😭🙌🏻👓👨🏻
— BRANDON WARDELL (@BRANDONWARDELL) October 10, 2016
U.S. history books, 2150: "And in that moment, the republic was saved by a man named Ken Bone."
— Emma Roller (@emmaroller) October 10, 2016
Don't let Ken Bone fool you. He knew he was going viral tonight. You don't go white tie and disposable camera unless you know it's your time
— Ryan Whitney (@ryanwhitney6) October 10, 2016
Crazy thing is, Ken Bone just got into his 1998 Nissan Sentra and began driving home completely unaware he's a worldwide legend.
— Chris Rocky (@chrisrockyoz) October 10, 2016
— Patton Oswalt (@pattonoswalt) October 10, 2016
y'all don't mess up this ken bone thing by interviewing him or finding out anything about him. thanks
— 🇺🇸 (@theshrillest) October 10, 2016
— Scott Gustin (@ScottGustin) October 10, 2016