US Intelligence Agency Tried to Sneak a Will Ferrell Quote onto a Mission Logo


A spy agency tried sneaking a quote from a Will Ferrell movie into it a satellite logo just a few years after it created an emblem that featured an octopus eating the Earth, government documents show.

The National Reconnaissance Office proposed a logo for its NROL-76 mission that bore the slogan “If you ain’t first, you’re last,” which was also the catchphrase of Ferrell’s character Ricky Bobby used in the movie “Talladega Nights,” agency records Muckrock obtained and released Tuesday show.

Bobby picked up the line from his father, who admitted he was “high” when he said it.

“Slogan of ‘first or last’ has two fold meaning: Reference to Talladega nights since (REDACTED) loves NASCAR and like Ricky Bobby “wanted to go fast” with the acquisition,” one email shows.

However, officials weren’t confident the slogan would survive.

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“Ricky Bobby quote from Talladega Nights is not exactly an academy award winning moment,” one email said.

The slogan was temporarily ruled out over copyright issues, and an official offered much more serious suggestions, such as the Sacagawea quote: “Amazing the things you find when you bother to search for them.”

But one team member found a potential loophole.

“I have the solution: ‘si non primus es novissimi,’” an email said. “It is Latin and roughly translates to ‘If you aint’ first, you’re last’ according to Google Translator … It will also be more mysterious for the average, non-latin literate observer.”

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“This Latin approached has worked before and allowed one of my previous organizations to have the slogan, ‘Doing God’s work with other people’s money’ fly right through the approval process,” he continued.

The team leader ultimately provided four options to vote on, which landed on, “(REDACTED) Explore — Discover — Know.”

The logo also portrays famed American explorers Lewis and Clark, with one looking through a spyglass while the other looking forward holding what appears to be a gun. Both men bear stern expressions, complete with down-turned eyebrows and frowns.

NRO’s in-progress logo for a new mission, featuring a quote from Talladega Nights. (Photo: National Reconnaissance Office)

“The good news is that neither Lewis nor Clark looked menacing,” a government email shows. “We should have no problems getting that one approved.”

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The White House previously threatened to veto future spy satellite logs after NRO released a logo for its NROL-39 mission that had an octopus sitting on top of the Earth with the slogan “Nothing is beyond our reach.” Capitol Hill had previously warned the agency to avoid controversy and menacing designs.

“I love it…only kitties and bunnies allowed. Thanks!” one email said, while another added, “This means that (REDACTED) image is out.”

Here’s how the final logo looked:

NRO’s final logo for a new mission. (Photo: National Reconnaissance Office)

As can be seen above, the “Talladega Nights” quote was absent from the final design.

A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.

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