Skip to navigationSkip to content
Reuters/Mike Segar
Carson never even applied.

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

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.

Subscribe to the Daily Brief, our morning email with news and insights you need to understand our changing world.

By providing your email, you agree to the Quartz Privacy Policy.