Ben Carson claims he was offered a full scholarship to West Point, but he never even applied

Carson never even applied.
Carson never even applied.
Image: Reuters/Mike Segar
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This post has been updated and clarified.

Ben Carson, the retired neurosurgeon and current Republican presidential frontrunner, appears to have exaggerated a significant anecdote in his memoir “Gifted Hands: The Ben Carson Story”—and has repeatedly maintained the claim, Politico reported.

Carson told the tale that after meeting a decorated US general in 1969, when he was a 17-year-old high school student, he received an offer to attend the West Point Military Academy on a “full scholarship.” He has repeated the claim as recently as August of this year, saying he was “thrilled to get an offer from West Point.”

West Point, a prestigious four-year academy for future US Army officers, has no record of Carson ever applying for admission. Nor is there any such thing as a “full scholarship” to the academy—every cadet admitted has all his or her costs covered.

A Carson spokesperson told Politico: “He considered it but in the end did not seek admission.”

Since overtaking Donald Trump in the Republican presidential race, Carson has come under increasing scrutiny, including claims that he was a violent youth who turned his life around, and his belief that Egypt’s pyramids were a storehouse for biblical grain.

After publication of Politico’s story, initially headlined “EXCLUSIVE: Ben Carson admits fabricating West Point scholarship,” the Carson campaign argued that its statement to the news outlet did not constitute an admission of a lie, and Politico’s story has changed to reflect that. Quartz has updated and clarified this post and its headline to reflect the same.