Happy birthday, Bobby Bones! The multi-talented radio host, who was born Bobby Estell, turns 41 on April 2. We already know he won Dancing With the Stars, is a mentor on American Idol, and has one of the biggest radio shows, of any genre, in the country. But there’s a lot more to know about Bones, so we are celebrating his big day with 11 fun facts about the radio and TV personality.
1. He was captain of the 12th grade quiz bowl team when he was just 12 years old.
While he realizes that being captain of the quiz bowl team — especially while several years younger than the rest of the team — might have been an early indicator that he was a bit of a “nerd,” according to him, he doesn’t mind that title. At all.
“You never really leave your nerdiness,” Bones told Arkansas Next. “It’s something I’m proud of. Being a nerd wasn’t cool for a long time, but nerds rule the world. Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk — all nerds.”
2. He has an early bedtime.
Bones has to get to his iHeartRadio studio early every morning, which means he also goes to bed early, turning down plenty of social invitations as a result — not that he minds.
“I don’t do things socially inside the industry, for a couple of reasons,” Bones said (via Yahoo!). [First, they are] usually after 6:00 PM, and I go to bed at 8:00. That’s tough for me. Two, I feel like if I get too into the record world, then I start to feel like I have to be part of the record community. I have friends that are reps and run labels, but I don’t like to get into that world. I just like to pick what I like with my ears and play it for no other reason, not because of the label or the rep. So far I’ve been lucky enough to be able to do that. I think not jumping in and going, ‘Hey, everyone, here I am. I want to be friends with everybody,’ made it look like I’m not a nice dude. That’s hurt me a bit.”
3. He didn’t have his own bedroom — or a bed — growing up.
Bones can by now afford the nicest bed he wants, but when he was growing up, he slept on the couch, with his clothing stuffed underneath.
“My mom was an addict, a lot of drugs and a lot of alcohol,” Bones said (via Entertainment Tonight ) “She died in her 40s. So she was never really present even though she was there … We never had a real, live human conversation, my mom and I didn’t. And I loved her, and I still love her.”
4. He doesn’t drink alcohol or caffeine.
Bones saw the struggles his own mother faced because of her addiction, which is why he refuses to drink alcohol or caffeine.
“I’m what they would call straight edge,” Bones told PopCulture.com. “I’m basically Fall Out Boy of country music. I just do it because if I drank, I would drink all of it. If I smoked, I would smoke all of it.”
5. His proudest accomplishment is winning Dancing With the Stars.
Bones has accomplished so much, including going from a small radio station to hosting his own syndicated Bobby Bones Show, but that isn’t what he is most proud of. Instead, his proudest moment is winning Season 27 of Dancing With the Stars.
“I would probably call it my greatest achievement to date. Not the most important thing I’ve ever done,” Bones told Closer Weekly. “You know I’ve been involved in a lot of great causes but I think that was the one that no one expected. One, I’m not even famous and they put me on that show so that was a gift to begin with, and secondly I won when Vegas had me ranked last of everyone who had the chance to win — but I think it just shows the power of the people. I represent the people, and it’s one thing I learned — don’t mess with the people, because we’ll get you every time!”
6. He launched his own smear campaign.
When Bones made the move from Austin to Nashville, he was not only moving to a new city, but replacing radio host Gerry House, arguably one of the most popular radio hosts Nashville has ever seen. Bones’ approach was different than House’s, and some people were not impressed. In an attempt to make people feel sorry for him, he spent $13,000 of his own money on billboards that said “Go Away Bobby Bones,” later admitting to the scheme in his Bare Bones memoir.
“You have to understand how hard it was to be rejected for the thing that I had been doing for years and that had made my radio show [in Austin] so successful — and that was being myself,” he reflected (via The Washington Post).
Fortunately for Bones, it worked.
7. He met his fiancée Caitlin Parker on the Dancing With the Stars set, but sparks didn’t fly right away.
Bones returned to the Dancing With the Stars set in 2019 to encourage his friend, Lauren Alaina, who was competing on the show. While there, his now-fiancée, Caitlin Parker, was there, as the guest of one of her friends, who works in PR for ABC.
“We didn’t really hit it off the first time we met,” Bones told People. “We were just like ‘Hi, what’s up?’ and then we started talking on Instagram like a month later,”
Still, once they had their first date (although Parker wasn’t considering it a date, as Bones later found out), sparks flew, and it didn’t take long for Parker to make the move to Nashville, all due to his return to DWTS.
“We had a chance meeting,” Bones told Parade. “She had a friend that was working PR, but I only went to visit them because I’d won Dancing With the Stars. So because of that mirror ball, I am now with the person I’m going to marry and be with for the rest of my life.”
8. He reconnected with his biological father as an adult.
It wasn’t until Bones was writing Fail Until You Don’t: Fight. Grind. Repeat, which is about overcoming fears to accomplish what you want, that he realized he needed to face his own fears about meeting his biological father. His father left when Bones was a young boy, and had lost all connection with his son after that, not that Bones blames him.
“I knew why he left,” Bones told People. “He was 17 when I was born. He left when I was four or five. He was a dumb kid, and we’ve all done things when we were dumb kids that we regret. And also I knew why he never came back because I have that same genetic stubbornness — that ability to block it out — because I do that, too, with painful things.”
The two had lunch together in Arkansas, but reportedly did not keep in close communication after their get-together.
9. He is considering switching careers and becoming a politician.
Bones has long said he would consider leaving his career in radio to focus on politics, with a specific goal of becoming the governor of Arkansas.
“If it feels funny, I can’t do it anymore,” Bones said on his radio show of his decision to leave his radio show and move into politics. “They know, work knows. They’re like, ‘We’re not going to put you in a bad situation, because we know you have political ambitions … I also had some attorneys go look, and see what the language is in the Arkansas State Constitution. You have to live there seven years in a row, but not right now. I’ve already lived there. I spent the first part of my life there. I’m covered.”
10. One of his on-air antics caused him to be investigated by the FCC, and a staggering fine.
In 2014, Bones aired fake emergency alerts on air, causing him to be investigated by the Federal Communications Commission, resulting in a whopping one million dollar fine for misuse of the emergency alert system.
“That was the worst, because I let everyone who believed in me down,” Bones later told Forbes.
11. The first celebrity he ever interviewed was Darius Rucker.
Bones has now interviewed virtually every celebrity around — at least in country music — but he still vividly remembers the first star he sat down with: Darius Rucker. According to Billboard, Rucker was just 17 years old at the time, and he was so nervous, Rucker held the microphone for him because Bones’ hands were shaking so much.