Austin T-Shirt Says Cruz Was Zodiac Killer, 38 Percent of Florida Voters Say It's Possible
T-shirts give us the chance to show the world who our favorite sports teams are, what amusement park rides we’ve survived, and now, whether we believe that U.S. Senator and GOP Presidential primary candidate Ted Cruz was the Zodiac Killer.
This is thanks to Austinite Tim Faust, who’s responsible for the t-shirts that posit the theory that Sen. Cruz is actually the person responsible for a series of unsolved Bay Area murders in the late 1960s and 1970s. Cruz, who was "allegedly" born in 1970, isn't the most likely suspect, but that doesn't rule him out, says Faust.
“He was young back then? Sure, that’s a great alibi. If I were Ted Cruz, I’d point that out too.” Faust and his friends were bouncing this joke about Cruz being the serial killer back and forth on Twitter for a while, he says, and that’s where the idea came from. And when Faust needed a side project to focus on, he took the joke and ran with it.
“The turnaround between ideation and execution was pretty brief.”
He asked a local artist, Rory Blank, to design the tees. Once Faust started advertising the shirts online and through social media, he got quite a response—more than he was expecting.
“I was planning on selling like 20, that was the goal. It was an afternoon, an evening goof. I thought okay, I can sell 20 shirts, I can pay Rory the artist $100, and the thing took off way bigger than I expected. When I last checked we were at…about 3,000 shirts.” Since Wednesday evening, that number has jumped to 3,500, Faust said Thursday.
He's surprised how quickly it caught on, he says. The group Public Policy Polling even responded to Twitter requests to include the Cruz-Zodiac theory as a question on an election survey.
A polling analyst with the group confirms that they did pick up the question for one of its surveys, but he says that they often incorporate "silly" questions.
The analyst, Jim Williams, says, “We got so much encouragement to do this question that we finally agreed to. People are very excited to find out what the people of Florida think about this matter." The results came in Thursday night.
Faust says he's going to cap shirt sales on March 4, and it’s a one-time deal because it just doesn’t work for anyone other than Cruz.
“There’s a level of suspension of disbelief that immediately happens when you assign terrible atrocities to Ted Cruz,” Faust says. "If you were to bring up any other candidate in any other election cycle, and said, ‘This person’s the Zodiac Killer,’ or ‘Kucinich is the Boston Strangler’ or whatever, people would go ‘that’s funny, that’s wacky, you’ve brought these two disparate things together into a wonderful comedy slurry.’ But with Ted, if you say ‘Ted Cruz is the Zodiac Killer,’ people’s first reaction is to go, ‘No...really? No, of course he’s not.’"
He encountered Cruz live at the GOP convention in 2013, when he was photographing him for the Texas Observer. Faust says he doesn’t like the guy, but he doesn’t talk about the t-shirt as though he’s trying to bring Cruz down. It’s more like Faust is trying to express his own feelings – his weird discomfort – about the Presidential candidate. And he thinks it’s caught on because other people must feel that way about Cruz too. And, he thinks it’s a little suspicious that the Cruz camp hasn’t responded with a denial yet.
“There’s a simple solution to all this. All he has to do is say ‘I’m not the Zodiac Killer,’ and then we can evaluate his argument. Right now we’ve posited the argument, the argument is pretty simple, and all he has to do is deny it,” Faust says.
But Faust is not holding his breath for a response. Instead he’s working on getting the shirts into production and getting the proceeds (at least $35,000 so far) to its intended recipient: West Fund, a group that helps women in West Texas who were affected by Texas’ House Bill 2 gain access to safe, legal abortions.
We've updated this story with the Florida poll results. Also we corrected 2003 GOP Convention by changing it to 2013 GOP Convention.