The Legend of Undercover Elvis


The Photo: While you probably recognize the iconic photo of Elvis meeting Nixon in 1970, you might not know the exact reason for the visit. Elvis desperately wanted to become an undercover agent. Concerned about increased drug use in America, he petitioned Nixon in a handwritten letter proposing he be named a "Federal Agent at Large." Elvis wrote, "I have done an in-depth study of drug abuse and Communist brainwashing techniques and I am right in the middle of the whole thing, where I can and will do the most good."

The Visit: Elvis then showed up at the White House unannounced, packing two handguns—one for protection, the other as a gift for the president. After some thinking, officials let him inside with both guns in tote.

At the extensively photographed meeting, Elvis showed Nixon his family photos and a collection of law enforcement badges. Later, Nixon awarded him a Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs badge, which listed Elvis' position as "Special Assistant."

The Crazy Conspiracy: Soon after Elvis' White House visit, the FBI gave him permits to carry firearms in every state so that he could take care of business whenever the mood struck. Pretty remarkable, considering that earlier in Elvis' career, J. Edgar Hoover had the FBI track the singer extensively. In fact, his FBI file ran more than 600 pages. This has led conspiracy theorists to suggest that Elvis finally got his Federal Agent wish in 1977, faking his own death in order to go undercover.

This article originally appeared in the May-June 2007 issue of mental_floss magazine.