Jerry Jones said the Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders have outflanked one of the country’s most-traveled actor-comedians.
Jones, who owns the football team, spoke to ESPN’s Mike and Mike on Jan. 8, 2015, in the Dallas-area studio where the cheerleaders practice, according to a blog post by the Dallas Morning News. Opening the 15-minute interview, which aired the next morning, Jones stressed the location, saying: "We’re sitting here in the area where the cheerleaders perform. I’ll get my little plug in there."
Then Jones said: "They’ve entertained more troops in the world than Bob Hope."
Now this isn’t politics. But Jones made his claim in Texas and the late Hope, friend to presidents and world leaders, would surely holler for the Truth-O-Meter if he could, maybe waving a golf club.
Hope and the troops
Over decades, often around Christmas, Hope flew the globe to put on shows for U.S. troops. In his later years, the shows were taped as TV specials.
According to a web page for the USO, the nonprofit dedicated to lifting the spirits of troops, Hope performed his first USO show in California in May 1941. "Hope entertained" with the USO "until December 1990, when he brought laughter and Christmas cheer to troops participating in Operation Desert Shield in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain on his final USO tour," the page says. A USO timeline, on another web page, says in the entry for 1943: "Over the course of his career, Hope appeared in or hosted almost 200 USO performances, including annual Christmas tours for 35 consecutive years."
Hope's run with the USO nearly reached 50 years.
By telephone, though, USO spokeswoman Gayle Fishel said she was uncertain the organization had a tally of the number of troops Hope ultimately entertained.
A 1997 congressional resolution, deeming Hope an honorary veteran of the U.S. Armed Forces, said that during "World War II, the Korean Conflict, the Vietnam War, and the Persian Gulf War and throughout the Cold War, Bob Hope traveled to visit and entertain millions of United States service members in numerous countries, on ships at sea, and in combat zones ashore."
Responding to our inquiry by email, James Hardy, producer for Bob Hope Enterprises, Inc., pointed out an Air Force web page stating: "For more than 50 years, Bob Hope entertained men and women of the U.S. Air Force and the other services at home and overseas, in peace and in war. At least 10,000,000 G.I.s benefited from his efforts." Hardy said Hope routinely did 150 shows during a USO tour.
Cheerleaders and the troops
Dallas Cowboys officials replied to our query about Jones’ statement by noting the cheerleaders have been doing performance tours in coordination with the Department of Defense since a 1979 tour in South Korea.
A page in the Cowboys media guide, emailed to us by the team, states the cheerleaders’ Show Group has made "more international tours with the USO than any other entertainment group. They bring their own special brand of goodwill and gratitude to the men and women in the military, traveling to locations as diverse as Iraq, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Cuba, Korea and the Persian Gulf." Through 2014, the team told us, the cheerleaders had teamed up the government 78 times "to boost the morale of the men, women and families of our U.S. military at hundreds of bases and outposts around the world."
Separately, USO spokeswoman Sharee Posey emailed that since 2002, the Cowboys cheerleaders had entertained more than 198,000 troops and military families. Posey said USO does not have information on Hope's appearances.
We pressed Dalrymple on how Jones concluded the cheerleaders had entertained more troops than Hope.
Spokesman Rich Dalrymple replied that the team hasn’t laid claim to the cheerleaders entertaining more troops than Hope.
But Jones did, yes?
"Evidently he did not have his facts correct, which is my fault, so you can blame me," Dalrymple said by email.
Jones said the cheerleaders for the Dallas Cowboys have "entertained more troops in the world than Bob Hope."
The cheerleaders may be outpacing other groups in USO tours, having toured nearly 80 times. But it looks like Hope, who died at 100 in July 2003, performed before more troops, given that he had nearly 200 USO swings.
We rate Jones' claim False.
FALSE – The statement is not accurate.
Click here for more on the six PolitiFact ratings and how we select facts to check.
UPDATE, 4 p.m., Jan. 13, 2015: We updated this story Jan. 12, 2015, to correct the spelling of a USO official's name and to fold in that group's count of the troops entertained by the Cowboys cheerleaders since 2002. We updated it afresh the next day to add an Air Force mention of Hope entertaining millions of troops. These changes did not affect the rating of the statement.