20 Amazing Facts About Arnold Schwarzenegger

20 Amazing Facts About Arnold Schwarzenegger
"Arnold Schwarzenegger" by Gage Skidmore is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

Arnold Alois Schwarzenegger has an incredible resume; from an award-winning bodybuilding career, Hollywood fame, politics, and many successful business ventures, the athlete turned actor, politician and entrepreneur is a household name. Although he is already a well-known prominent figure, here are some of the lesser known and most fascinating facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger. 

1. Arnold had a rough upbringing 

Arnold Schwarzenegger was born in Austria on July 30, 1947. He was the second son to Gustav and Aurelia Schwarzenegger. He grew up in poverty; his best childhood moment was when his family had saved up enough money to buy a refrigerator. Arnold’s father was the chief of police in his local town and had also served in World War 2, voluntarily joining the Nazi party in 1938. Gustav favored his eldest son, Meinhard, because he did not believe Arnold was his biological child. Schwarzenegger’s father was extremely hard on him and would spank him regularly, an abuse that pushed Arnold to leave his home at a young age and become a self-made man.  He maintained a relationship with his mother until her death but reportedly did not attend the funeral of his father or brother. His brother, Meinhard Schwarzenegger died in a car accident on May 20, 1971 as a result of drunk driving. A year later, his father passed away. (The Guardian)

2. Arnold was the youngest Mr. Olympia ever

Before Hollywood fame and fortune, Arnold Schwarzenegger had a tremendously successful bodybuilding career. He started training at the young age of 15 and competing professionally two years later. He won the title of Mr. Olympia in 1970 at only 23 years of age, making him the youngest Mr. Olympia ever. The oldest Mr. Olympia ever was Shawn Roden, winning his title in 2018 at 43 years of age. Arnold was also the youngest Mr. Universe at age 20, an award he won five times. He earned the Mr. Olympia title seven times, which was a world record at the time, until 1991 when Lee Haney won his eighth. (Bodybuilding Universe)

3. He didn’t perform so well in school

One of the most interesting facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger is that despite being an overachiever in life, he wasn’t that brilliant in school. The self-made millionaire is undoubtedly a very intelligent man, but his academic records did not reflect this. During his academic career, his grades were constantly average or below average; he never officially failed any of his classes, however. The young bodybuilder chose to put his focus and energies toward his training, and it propelled him much further than any college degree he may have had. Despite his underachievement in school, Arnold went on to become one of the world’s most successful people. (Archive.org)

4.  Arnold was originally a soccer player

The Terminator star started his athletic career as a soccer player. It is rumored that he pursued the sport to try and impress his father when the two had a complicated and strained relationship. When Arnold was a young teenager, his coach took the soccer team to a local gym to do some weight training. He instantly fell in love with bodybuilding, and quickly dropped soccer to focus on his new career as a bodybuilder. (BBC UK)

5. He took care of his nephew

One of the most heartwarming facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger is that he took care of his estranged brother’s son. In 1971, Arnold’s brother Meinhard Schwarzenegger, died in a car accident leaving behind a fiancé and three-year-old son. Despite his complicated relationship with his brother, he supported his late brother’s family. He paid for the boy’s entire education and also helped him immigrate to the United States, where he attended the University of Southern California School of Law. (LA Times)

6. His first successful movie was a documentary 

In 1975, the documentary “Pumping Iron” was filmed, showcasing the journey of many bodybuilders as they trained for the Mr. Olympia competition. Though it was supposed to be a documentary, it included a storyline of a rivalry between Arnold and future “Hulk” star Lou Ferrigno. The documentary-cum-film is widely seen as the turning point of Arnold’s movie career. (Vanity Fair)

7. He can speak in American accent 

One of the more surprising facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger is he can actually speak English with an American Accent. The Austria native immigrated to the United States when he was 21 years old, with little money and even less knowledge of the English language. In 2015, he admitted that he could speak English in American accent, but preferred sticking to Austrian, which has since become his trademark in interviews and movies. (The Daily Mail)

8. He was a politician

Arnold was elected the 38th governor of California serving from 2003 to 2011. Schwarzenegger ran and served as a Republican, stating that the Democratic party reminded him too much of the socialism he escaped in Austria. Like in his early acting career, many thought Schwarzenegger would not be taken seriously in politics given his reputation as a Hollywood star, however, many supported his political ambitions and elected him to office. He became the second governor born outside of the United States. During his time in service, Arnold did not accept any salary, and traveled for business at his own expense. (Los Angeles Times)

Facts About Arnold Schwarzenegger

Governor Schwarzenegger (left) with former UK Prime Minister David Cameron. Source: Creative Commons.

9. He had a secret son

In 2011, the Los Angeles Times reported that Arnold had fathered a secret child with his housekeeper, Mildred Buena. The two reportedly had an affair in the 1990s, and Mildred was even pregnant at the same time when Arnold’s wife, Maria Shriver, was pregnant with their fourth child. This is undoubtedly one of the most shocking facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger. However, the child’s identity was kept a secret until the boy was 8 years old. After the scandal was revealed, Marie moved out and filed for divorce. After 25 years of marriage and four children together, the couple ended the marriage in May 2011. Arnold later stated that his divorce to Maria was the lowest point of his life. (Los Angeles Times)

10.  He did time in a military prison

His prison sentence, one of the most unexpected facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger, came as a result of his passion for bodybuilding. Arnold joined the Austrian military when he was 18 years old, as was mandated for all Austrian males. However, during his basic training, the aspiring bodybuilder went AWOL to compete in the Junior Mr. Europe competition. As punishment, he spent one week in a military prison. (Fox News)

11. He loves meditation

Even though he used to be one of the world’s strongest men, Arnold still had his own weaknesses. The bodybuilder once admitted to struggling with anxiety. A friend taught him how to meditate and he hasn’t looked back ever since. He now practices meditation on a regular basis to avoid anxiety and cope with stress. (Business Insider)

12.  Didn’t vote for Donald Trump despite being a Republican

One of the most interesting facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger, an avid Republican since 1983, is he did not vote for the Republican nominee in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. Arnold had been inspired from speeches of President Nixon discussing free enterprise, minimal government, and military enhancements when he first immigrated to the U.S. However, in 2016, Schwarzenegger endorsed another U.S. Republican candidate by the name of John Kasich. After The Washington Post released a video of then Presidential candidate, Donald Trump, making crude and inappropriate comments about women, Arnold announced he would not be voting for him in 2016. (Politico)

13.  He was a millionaire even before he became an actor

One of the most fascinating facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger is he was a millionaire before he even conquered Hollywood. Although his career as a bodybuilder was wildly successful, Arnold wanted a more reliable income. He invested his bodybuilding earnings into the California Real Estate market. Due to a significant rise in property values in the housing market in the 1970s, the soon to be actor made millions of dollars. (CNBC News)

14.  His childhood home is now a museum 

Arnold’s small hometown of Thal, Austria honored their prodigy by turning his childhood home into a museum open to the public. At the museum, opened in 2011, visitors can walk through the first-floor apartment home and see the Millionaire’s old bed, some lifting equipment, a desk he used while governor of California, and a motorcycle from the movie Terminator. (BBC)

Facts About Arnold Schwarzenegger

Schwarzenegger in The Terminator, 1984. Source: Creative Commons

15.  He kept his Conan sword in his governor’s office

Arnold kept the Atlantean sword from his breakthrough role in the film Conan the Barbarian, mounting it in his office when he was governor of California. It is said that the then governor would make sure the sword was always visible during meetings as a funny reminder of what he was capable of while wielding the sword. (NBC Los Angeles)

16.  He only sleeps six hours a night

While giving a commencement speech at the University of California in 2009, the then governor revealed that he only sleeps six hours a night. He was responding to a student who brought to his attention the rising costs of obtaining an education, stating that he needed to work a part time job to put himself through school, which didn’t leave him much time to study. (Smart and Relentless)

17.  Arnold believes in New Year’s resolutions

As a bodybuilder, Schwarzenegger learned the importance of consistency. He trained daily to obtain his beast of a body that landed him many championships. He took this same methodology and applied it to his other aspirations, drafting a plan and sticking to it religiously to achieve his goals. At the beginning of each year, the mega successful star still evaluates what he would like to accomplish in the coming 12 months and works towards achieving the set of goals. (Goals On Track)

18.  His ‘hidden message’ was intentional

One of the funniest facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger derives from a veto letter he wrote to the State Assembly of California. The first letters of each line spelled out “F*** You.” At the time, Arnold claimed that it was simply a coincidence. However, later in his biography, he admitted that the ‘F-Bombs’ were intentional, a testament to Schwarzenegger’s cheekiness and sense of humor. (Men’s Health)

19.  He once broke into a gym to train  

Arnold allegedly broke into a gym named Liebenauer Kraftkammer in 1963 to train. The fitness center was closed on Sundays and he could not bear the thought of missing a day of training. He even stated once that he would not even be able to look at himself the next day if he had missed a day of lifting weights. Probably not the healthiest mindset, but one that inspired his success, nonetheless. (Evolution of Bodybuilding)

20. He signed the Donda West Law

One of the less surprising but endearing facts about Arnold Schwarzenegger is his big heart. Throughout his life, Arnold has always been an activist, championing the causes he believes in. After the death of Kanye West’s mother Donda West due to plastic surgery in 2007, the then Governor Schwarzenegger signed the Donda West Law. The law made it mandatory for patients to provide medical clearance prior to having an elective or cosmetic surgery. (MTV)

Arnold Schwarzenegger is one of the most decorated celebrities in Hollywood and the perfect example of the American Dream. He immigrated to the U.S. as a young man with nothing other than hope and determination, and became not only successful, but also famous and respected. Even though he is not a perfect human, having made his own share of mistakes, perfect humans do not exist, after all. Despite being told by agents and critics alike that he would never make it into acting because his body was too weird, his accent too thick, and name too strange and long, he has so far proven that with determination and self-belief, anything is possible.


  1. The Guardian: https://www.theguardian.com/film/2003/aug/08/usa.politicsandthearts
  2. Bodybuilding Universe: http://www.bodybuildinguniverse.com/olympia2.htm
  3. Archive.org: https://archive.org/details/truemythslifetim0000andr
  4. BBC: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/americas/3131155.stm
  5. LA Times: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1990-04-03-vw-875-story.html
  6. Vanity Fair: https://www.vanityfair.com/hollywood/2017/06/pumping-iron-arnold-schwarzenegger-40th-anniversary-exclusive-photos
  7. Daily Mail: https://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-3141778/Arnold-Schwarzenegger-reveals-speak-perfect-English-keeps-talking-accent-fans-expect-it.html
  8. LA Times: https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-2006-apr-15-me-arnold15-story.html
  9. Los Angeles Times: https://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-0517-arnold-20110517-story.html
  10.  Fox News: https://www.foxnews.com/entertainment/bodybuilding-cost-schwarzenegger-stint-in-austrian-military-jail#:~:text=BEVERLY%20HILLS%2C%20California%20%E2%80%93%20Arnold%20Schwarzenegger,Europe%20contest%20in%20Germany.
  11. Business Insider: https://www.businessinsider.com/arnold-schwarzenegger-transcendental-meditation-2015-2
  12.  Politico: https://www.politico.com/story/2016/10/arnold-schwarzenegger-donald-trump-229359
  13.  CNBC News: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/02/06/the-way-arnold-schwarzenegger-made-his-first-million.html
  14.  BBC: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-14352384
  15.  NBC Los Angeles: https://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/yes-he-still-has-the-conan-sword/1846433/
  16.  Smart and Relentless: http://smartandrelentless.com/the-worlds-most-successful-sleep-less-than-6-hours-a-day/
  17.  Goals On Track: https://www.goalsontrack.com/blog/2012/11/26/goal-setting-the-arnold-schwarzenegger-example/
  18.  Men’s Health: https://www.menshealth.com/entertainment/a29667236/arnold-schwarzenegger-james-corden-late-late-show/
  19.  Evolution of Bodybuilding: https://www.evolutionofbodybuilding.net/arnold-schwarzenegger-mr-olympia-1970-1975-1980/
  20.  MTV: http://www.mtv.com/news/1623902/arnold-schwarzenegger-signs-donda-west-plastic-surgery-law/

Leave a Reply