May 29, 2022 marks what would have been President John F. Kennedy’s 105th birthday, and although he might not have made it to 105 even in the best-case scenario, his life definitely ended too soon. Assassinated in Dallas in November 1963, JFK was widely beloved despite the political unrest of the Cold War and Vietnam War. Even more than 50 years after his death, many conspiracy theories are still circulating today about what really happened.
At the time of his death, JFK had a 58 percent approval rating, which is very high for a president in office. Just six months before his death, he had a 70 percent approval rating. However, one man, Lee Harvey Oswald, was blamed for firing three shots aimed at JFK. But between Oswald claiming that he was a “patsy" and some other mysterious circumstances, we can’t help but find some conspiracy theories at least a bit plausible, so here are five of the most popular ones related to JFK's death.
Conspiracy Theory No. 1: Lyndon B. Johnson was responsible for JFK’s assassination.
This TikTok video from @creepy_conspiracies8 highlights what’s often referred to as the “Wink Theory,” in which theorists refer to a photograph of Democratic Rep Albert Thomas in which he is shown winking at President Lyndon B. Johnson shortly after Johnson's emergency inauguration. Theorists believe this wink could imply Johnson was somehow in on the the assassination attempt.
This theory is also fueled by a rumor from Madeleine Brown that Johnson had a party with ex-Vice President Nixon and FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover the night before the assassination, during which Johnson allegedly whispered to Brown, “After tomorrow, those Kennedys will never embarrass me again. That’s no threat. That’s a promise.” However, it’s been debunked by JFK theorist Dave Perry, who found that the rumor began with anti-Johnson sentiment in Texas.
Conspiracy Theory No. 2: JFK was accidentally shot by a Secret Service member.
Also covered on TikTok, this theory is based on an autopsy of JFK, which shows a large chunk of bone taken out of his skull. This theory states that JFK was shot with two different types of bullets. The first, which hit JFK in the neck and continued on to Governor Connelly was confirmed to be a full metal jacket bullet.
However, according to this theory, the second bullet was more likely a hollow-point bullet, which expands in size on impact. This would explain why such a large chunk of his skull was missing. But to corroborate this, the only type of gun that could shoot an HP bullet was an AR-15 operated by Secret Service member George Hickey. One theory is that when JFK’s driver slammed on the brakes in shock, this caused Hickey to accidentally pull the trigger and deliver the fatal blow.
Conspiracy Theory No. 3: The CIA was behind the whole plan.
JFK’s assassination occurred against the backdrop of tensions between the USA, Cuba, and Russia. Oswald was a known Cuba-Russian sympathizer, and according to Perry, this is the hardest theory to debunk.
“Supposedly Kennedy was fed up with the shenanigans that the CIA was pulling,” he told CNN. “He found out the CIA was trying to kill [Cuban leader Fidel] Castro, which is a fact. So the argument is that the CIA felt that Kennedy was going to disband them. And as a result of that, they were the ones that ordered the killing of Kennedy.”
According to Perry, knowing that Oswald was in the Russian Embassy in Mexico City, the CIA could have paid him to take out JFK as a double agent. To corroborate this story, Perry points out that Allen Dulles was a member of the Warren Commission — Dulles was the former head of the CIA. Sound fishy? It still sounds far-fetched, but anything’s possible.
Conspiracy Theory No. 4: The FBI lied about what really happened to cover up the “grassy knoll” shooter.
In a Joe Rogan interview with filmmaker Oliver Stone (who famously made the conspiracy film about JFK’s assassination, JFK), the two discussed what really happened. In the original investigation, the Warren Commission, lawmakers came to the conclusion that Oswald fired three shots and that he acted alone.
However, Stone claims that there were four or five shots fired, and that the idea of the single bullet going through JFK to Connelly (i.e. the “magic bullet”), makes no sense. Consequently, many people today still believe that there was a second shooter on a “grassy knoll” in Dealey Plaza that the FBI wanted to cover up.
Conspiracy Theory No. 5: JFK was killed by a secret alien base.
OK, this conspiracy theory is just for fun. Started by Milton William Cooper, a gun-rights advocate and radio personality who really believed it, this conspiracy posits that JFK was killed by a “gas pressure device” that aliens gave to the limo driver. The aliens came from Project Luna, a secret alien base on the dark side of the moon. Cooper believed that the aliens assassinated JFK because he was going to reveal his collusion with the aliens.
This theory alone just proves how ridiculous many of these conspiracies are, although one thing we can believe is that we still don’t know the full story of exactly what happened.