How Elizabeth Warren's book ended up making a cameo on the Rock's TV show 'Ballers'

Hunter Walker
White House Correspondent
Dwayne Johnson, left, reading Elizabeth Warren's book in a Season 5 episode of "Ballers"; right, Sen. Elizabeth Warren. (Photo illustration: Yahoo News; photos: screenshot via HBO, Joseph Prezioso/AFP/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — Elizabeth Warren is a fan of policy plans, regulating the financial industry, reducing economic inequality — and the HBO comedy “Ballers,” starring Dwayne “the Rock” Johnson.

The book by the Massachusetts senator and presidential candidate makes a brief appearance in the opening episode of the show’s fifth season because producers knew about her fondness for the show. Johnson’s character, sports world entrepreneur Spencer Strasmore, is shown reading Warren’s 2017 book “This Fight Is Our Fight” on a beach as the episode begins.

“Ballers” producer Steve Baker told Yahoo News Warren’s book was included because the “Ballers” team knows she is a fan.

“When we talked about the book Spencer should be reading, we were spit-balling and I’d read Sen. Warren’s book recently and suggested it and [‘Ballers’ creator Stephen Levinson] instantaneously loved the idea and we thought it was the perfect nod of appreciation to one of our biggest supporters in Sen. Warren,” “Ballers” producer Steve Baker said.

Warren has previously professed her admiration for the show in interviews, on Twitter and in the prologue to her book, in which she describes settling in with her husband, some popcorn and a beer to binge-watch the second season of “Ballers” alongside news reports on election night in 2016. “Our son had hooked us on it the year before,” Warren wrote of the show.

A source said Warren’s campaign was not aware her book would be appearing on “Ballers” before the episode aired. After the premiere, she took to Twitter and made a joke referencing the fact that the main character said he had “one more chapter” left to finish.

“I love this! But did Spencer ever get to finish the last chapter, @TheRock?” Warren asked.

Representatives for Johnson did not respond to a request for comment. This isn’t the action movie star and ex-professional wrestler’s first dalliance with the political world. In multiple interviews, Johnson has flirted with the idea of running for president and some observers have even suggested he would have a real chance to win. While Johnson hasn’t ruled out a White House bid, it wouldn’t be coming any time soon, based on comments he made on “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” last July.

“I have incredible respect for our American people and our country, so I said I’d consider it and of course I would. But at the same time, Stephen, look, I’m not delusional at all. I need that thing, what is it? Experience. So if that were to happen, in 2024 or 2028, I’d have to go to work and get some experience and understand policy. Give it 110 percent,” Johnson said.

A source told Yahoo News that Johnson is a friend of another 2020 Democratic candidate, New Jersey Sen. Cory Booker. The Rock’s experience in the political realm also includes being possibly the person to break the news of Osama bin Laden’s death on Twitter in 2011.

In a 2017 interview with Samantha Bee, Warren explained why “Ballers” appeals to her.

“It’s actually a story … about hard work. It’s a story about perseverance. It’s a story about having to reach within yourself and find something that you’re not 100 percent sure is there,” Warren said.

Warren offered a simpler answer when she was asked about her love of the show on “Pod Save America” last year.

“It is ‘the Rock,’” Warren said.


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