Texas Senator Ted Cruz took a stab at humor on Wednesday, recycling a joke he made last year about being the Zodiac Killer.
“Happy Halloween,” Cruz wrote in a tweet, along with an image of one of the infamous cryptic letters by the so called Zodiac Killer, a serial murderer who was known to be active from the late 1960s to the early 1970s.
Happy Halloween pic.twitter.com/jIgTaIMzep
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) October 31, 2018
Cruz was referencing a long running internet joke that he’s the infamous killer.
But despite his best efforts, the joke seemed to be dead on arrival.
When Ted tweets something funny. pic.twitter.com/nxBx7f1WvR
— Jeremy Aguilar (@Jaremeboii) October 31, 2018
Finally embracing the meme ????
— Jaedon Staples (@JaedonStaples) October 31, 2018
Cruz was born in 1970, two years before the first Zodiac murder. But that hasn’t stopped the conspiracy theory from gaining traction online. The meme originated from a 2013 tweet from an account called @RedPillAmerica.
#CPAC Alert: Ted Cruz is speaking!! His speech is titled: 'This Is The Zodiac Speaking'
— 🇺🇦🇺🇦Steppin’ Razor 🇺🇦🇺🇦 (@TakeItDeeDee) March 14, 2013
The theory soon took a life of its own.
— Griff (@ffingir) February 2, 2016
It got so much attention that in February of 2016, a survey by the Public Policy Polling found that 38 percent of Florida voters actually thought Cruz might be the Zodiac Killer, with 10 percent of voters saying Cruz was the killer and another 28 percent saying they were not sure.
In May 2016, Cruz’s wife Heidi, denied he was the killer in an interview.
“Well, I’ve been married to him for 15 years and I know pretty well who he is, so it doesn’t bother me at all,” Heidi Cruz said. “There’s a lot of garbage out there. It’s amazing how a lot of people are swayed by it.”
The joke got a boost when last year, Cruz himself got in on it, tweeting out the image of a Zodiac Killer letter in response Sen. Ben Sasse’s admission that he had spilled Dr. Pepper on Cruz during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
Investigating the phenomenon, NPR spoke with several people involved with the Cruz/Zodiac meme last year, who said it was “all about a feeling they had about Cruz: they think he’s creepy.”
The Zodiac Killer was responsible for a string of murders in California in the 1960s. The moniker was based on cryptograms he sent to newspapers. The identity of the murderer was never uncovered.