Man Who Inspired Netflix’s ‘The Polka King’ Shares His Bizarre-But-True Life Story

Less than a decade after his release from prison, Jan “Lewan” Lewandowski is the subject of a new Netflix movie that’s based on his strange life story. He talked with Glenn on today’s show about his journey from Poland to Pope John Paul II to “Polka King” inspiration.

Lewan came to the U.S. from Poland in 1971, intent on success. He brought together a polka band and took them on a European tour where they went to Rome to meet the pope. But unfortunately, Lewan’s story also includes fraud, tampered votes and an elaborate Ponzi scheme.

Lewan was arrested in 2001 for fraudulent dealings that amounted to millions of dollars stolen from more than 400 people. And yes, he would like for you to watch the Netflix movie.

“Even though I was told, ‘Don’t do it,’ I [kept doing it] because when you drown, you will catch anything,” Lewan told Glenn on today’s show.

This article provided courtesy of TheBlaze.

GLENN: So Netflix has a new movie out with Jack Black. It's called the Polka King. And the polka king is an actual guy. And I started looking into him. And I thought, we have to talk to this guy. His name is Jan Lewan. And he is from Poland. He was born in Nazi-controlled Poland and grew up under the Soviet Union. Came over here. Wanted to make it big.

Fell into a Ponzi scheme. I should say, he started a Ponzi scheme and others fell into it. He lived the high life. Met the pope. Pope John Paul II. Had real notoriety in the polka world. His music was nominated for a Grammy. And then he went to jail where he was stabbed in prison.

He is out now and has a whole lifetime of interesting stories. Welcome, Juan la Juan. How are you, sir?

JAN: Fine. How are you?

GLENN: Very good.

So let's start -- when did you come over here in the United States? And what was life like back in Poland for you?

JAN: Well, you're in a communist regime, the life is terrifying every day. You couldn't trust nobody, and you are living always with the fear that you're going to be punished for anything.

So life in the communist is definitely very negative, very depressing life.

GLENN: And when did you come over here? What time period?

JAN: To the United States, I arrived in the '80s. In 1980. I actually -- early, I was coming for the performing, for the festivals. I was living in Canada first. And they were bringing me here to the states from time to time.

And then in the '80s, I came here permanently.

GLENN: So you came under -- at the height of the Cold War, with Ronald Reagan, which must have been --

JAN: Yep. That's exactly it.

GLENN: And how do you remember those days, as somebody from Poland? The Reagan --

JAN: Oh, I remember.

GLENN: The Reagan years and the Pope John Paul and Margaret Thatcher years.

JAN: That was the turning -- turning point in Poland. Finally, the opposition started growing, included movements with Lefawenza (phonetic). And that gave power to oppositions, to -- to succeed. And actually thanks to Lefawenza, they succeed eventually to get back freedom in Poland. And, of course, they were behind 50 years. So, you know, we didn't have a proper education. See, you have to belong to the Communist Party. Then you were -- you'll be assigned to the better school. You can learn English. In my case, my parents did not want nothing to do with the communists.

So they not only lost the job, but I was learning Russian instead of English.

GLENN: So you come over here. You move to Pennsylvania. And you become the polka king. Tell me --

JAN: Well, the polka king, you know, that came along.

GLENN: Yeah.

JAN: I guess your question is, how I went to that.

I learned that in Poland, for the people who came here after the Second War, and many of them cannot go back to Poland, during the communist regime. Many cases, they will find out in jail since they didn't come back to Poland after the Second War.

So that was the -- and there were all just there for me. Because I was starting to learn English a little bit. But I was speaking Polish.

And then due to my education in Poland, in the theatrical school and this, I wasn't ready for that kind of entertainment with the polkas and this.

And I found that when I turned the polish folk music to polka, I gained lots of viewers. I mean, my -- my concert hall and festival, they were full to the last seat because they loved that. Broken English. Polish.

GLENN: Right. Right.

JAN: You know.

GLENN: Right.

JAN: That's the way it goes.

GLENN: So you -- in the movie, with Jack Black, you appear to be a wide-eyed, I love America and I'm going to make it big.

And it seems as though you don't really know what you're doing is wrong, until later. But you started a Ponzi scheme. Can you --

JAN: Yes.

GLENN: Tell me about it. And did you know that it was wrong at first?

JAN: No. Not at all. I went with my accountor, for the legal advice. And I was advised that everything is fine. A couple days later, we went again. Everything is fine. Go ahead.

I wasn't told I have to register. That was the -- that was the wrong thing on the beginning. Not so -- I feel free to advertise. This is perfect. That's -- again, oh, I'm going to build the empire.

GLENN: Right. And what were you selling people?

JAN: Well, it was a promissory note, which I offered them 12 percent. And that was very easy for me on the beginning to pay that, because in Poland, at that time, everything was penny. And in America, you sold for tens of thousands of dollars. So I created the gift shop. When you create the gift shop, you have to -- you have to have money to buy these gifts, which I didn't have nothing.

So people could travel with me to Poland. They saw on their own eyes, oh, my gosh, that doll cost 25 cents here. And in America, I pay 20 dollar. You should buy Poland. You should get everything to America, and you're going to get rich. And we're going to get rich.

Sure, I go for it.

And that's called -- of course, later on, I learned, I'm not doing illegal thing -- it's illegal. Well, I already have huge merchandise in the silver, amber -- those and everything, just to sell that. I wasn't able to sell when the accident came over. When the 9/11 came over. And, oh, the whole thing fell apart. My two musicians get killed. My son was suffering with terrible -- we all were suffering. So even though I was told don't do it, I would keep doing it. Because when you're drowning, you will catch anything. So I did wrong, knowing that I did wrong, and I paid a high price for that.

GLENN: Yeah. You went to prison for how long?

JAN: Almost six years.

GLENN: And you were stabbed in prison.

JAN: Yes. Because I should never finalize in such a terrible prison in Smyrna. That's people who commit --

GLENN: Violent.

JAN: Terrible violence. Most of them were killers. And somebody like me, with an accent, with -- with the conversation, they thought, well, he's such a soft. You know, this guy -- this guy is here for something, what we call child -- which I had nothing to do with that. And they get angry. But that's what they say in media. My opinion on that is different. Something went wrong.

Somehow, somebody did the job. And the guy who -- who really cut my neck left and right, he got 25 years on the top of his life sentence. So makes no difference for him.

Why he did that, I still don't know. I was very nice to him. I bought him coffee in commissary and everything. And keep conversation. And somehow, you know, he got me when I was sleeping.

GLENN: When you can't trust a killer, who can you trust?

JAN: Thank you.

GLENN: So, Jan, now you're out, Jack Black is playing you in a movie. What does the future hold for you? And what's your attitude about being here?

JAN: Yeah. Before I go -- part of this -- let me just say that, believe me, I'm very sorry for people who get caught in my situation, who lost the money. I would do everything possible to supply my restitution as much as I can.

Since I am thankful for that -- but I never thought that movie going to change my life. Jack Black told me that. We were talking for six months every night for two hours.

And he learned from the day I was born, you know, how they got everything so perfect in the movie, I still don't know. I did send them some of my writing, what I was doing through this years in prison, they learned from that. But I think Jack Black was a great influence to the script, to the script writers, Mya and Wally, that they did so perfect. Because I don't see -- it may be -- Hollywood.

You know, that's -- but now, the movie -- I have right now thousands of very nice comments. Of course, the negatives as well. But next to -- I should say, well, they're writing to me. They're probably just writing a positive way.

But the point is that they're asking me right now to do the concert. And I wouldn't to do that. My music director, Steve Kaminski, who actually saved the music in the movie. We had -- in the movie, we had top notch arrangements for big dance polka. It's not like regular dancing. Small thing. Okay? I don't know.

Did you see the movie?

GLENN: I have not yet. I've seen several clips of it, but I have not seen the movie.

JAN: I wish you will see the movie.

GLENN: I will. I will. I will watch it.

JAN: So that is my camera man. He supplied them with -- with all of the footage, which he traveled with me all the time. You're going to see that in the movie. They did everything. I mean, my gosh, it's fantastic.

GLENN: All right.

JAN: I don't know what it will generate because I don't need money anymore. I want to give to people who suffer over that. And I'm so sorry. Believe me, I am sick over that.

GLENN: Jan Lewan. It's a pleasure to talk to you. I'm sorry I didn't watch the movie. I had plans to watch it with my family this weekend. Something came up, so we didn't watch it. But I'm anxious to see it.

JAN: Please. Please.

GLENN: You have led a very interesting life. And I wish you all the best, sir. God bless.

JAN: Thank you. Thank you very much for your time.

STU: So to review, guy comes from over from Poland. He's a polka king. He starts up a polish gift store. He gets people to invest in the store by promising them 12 percent and 20 percent returns.

That apparently is illegal. But he's too far in the hole to pay the money back, so he has to continue the illegal activity. He goes to prison over it, and then he gets stabbed in prison in the neck.

GLENN: More than stabbed. He had his throat cut.

STU: Throat cut in prison. And his life -- right now, the story so far -- and I'm not going to say that there is not a lot more to this. But right now, it ends in a Jack Black movie that just came out on Netflix. It's perfect. And it should be a Jack Black movie.

GLENN: Yes, it is. We live in a parallel universe, man.

STU: I really want to see it. The movie is called The Polka King. There's not only a Jack Black movie, but also a documentary that are both on Netflix now, if you're interested in the stories.

GLENN: Yeah. I saw parts of the documentary. He's a fascinating guy.

The government of the Northern Territory of Australia is now running "mandatory supervised" COVID-19 quarantine facilities, and there are a lot of conflicting reports going around about what's really happening in these "camps." Are they internment camps, summer vacation spots, or something in between?

On "The Glenn Beck Program" Monday, Glenn and Producer Stu Burguiere discussed the case of 26-year-old Australian resident Hayley Hodgson, who detailed her experience at the Center of National Resilience in Howard Springs during a recent interview with UnHerd. They compared Hodgson's description of the Howard Springs facility to images of bikini-clad Australians in quarantine who appear to be on holiday at the same facility.

So, what's really going on with Australia's COVID quarantine facilities? Watch the video clip below to hear Glenn and Stu break down what we know so far:

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Glenn Beck: Here's how YOU can fix the Great Reset's housing crisis

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How's the housing market looking these days? Because under Build Back Better (aka the Great Reset), investors are grabbing up homes at a record pace.

On "The Glenn Beck Radio Program," Glenn discussed a recent Redfin News report, which shows that almost one in five homes sold in the U.S. during the third quarter of 2021 was purchased by an investment firm, and many are paying tens of thousands of dollars over the asking price.

"Think of that, one in every five homes that are sold are going to a big investment firm," Glenn said. "Investors bought more than 90,000 homes, totaling more than $63 billion, representing 18% of all homes sold in the quarter. The numbers broke all records."

"The same factors have pushed more Americans to rent, which also creates opportunities for investors, because investors typically turn the homes they purchase into rentals," he continued. "And now they can charge higher rents. Rent for single-family homes surged by more than 10% in the 12 months, through September. The fastest annual rent inflation in 16 years."

"And nearly 77% purchased were bought in an all-cash transaction," Glenn added. "That's not your average person. These investment firms, like BlackRock, are going in and buying entire neighborhoods. They are the people that come in, and say, 'I'll give you $70,000 over the asking price.' ... Now, why would investment firms think they will just be able to make money paying $70,000 over the asking price? What is it that they know, that you don't know? Could they know, as the Great Reset states, that by 2030, you will own nothing and you'll like it?"

Watch the video clip below to hear Glenn offer his thoughts on how you can solve the Great Reset's housing crisis:


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On "Glenn TV" Wednesday, Glenn Beck exposes the radical plan to flip the United States from capitalism to socialism and into a lawless nation. It's an old strategy that mirrors a communist Cold War playbook. The goal now, as it was then, is this: How do they get a revolution without all that civil war stuff? It’s a five-step plan, and we're deep into several of the main steps RIGHT NOW.

Our justice system has been infiltrated by woke leftists, and something called "the progressive prosecutor movement" is methodically transforming Main Street USA into Main Street Gotham City. We can see it all over the country in places like San Francisco, with the Waukesha massacre as a terrifying glimpse into more of what's coming. And the media? They're currently running interference in one of the largest misinformation operations in history.

It’s happening at the city, state, AND federal levels. And President Trump might be one of the biggest victims of them all, a fact that even Trump critic Joe Rogan has realized on the Russia collusion hoax: “No one is being held accountable!” That ends now, as Glenn calls on Americans to push back on the lies that keep us divided in a cold civil war.

Watch the full episode below:

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A "one-world government" is being formed right now and it’s called the Great Reset, Glenn Beck said on the radio program Monday. And now, rebuild plans for the fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral hint at the formation of a global church, too.

In this clip, Glenn detailed plans for the iconic, 850-year-old church’s "woke" renovations that sound more like a 'politically correct Disneyland' complete with a "discovery trail," "emotional spaces," and 14 themed chapels.

"Notre Dame is now being built back better as a 'woke theme park' dedicated to environmentalism and social justice," Glenn explained.

"There will be several different chapels within, [for example] a chapel for social justice, and then chapel for environmental justice," he continued. "Which leads me to this point. The 'one-world government' is being formed, right now. One-world government. It is being formed and it's called The Great Reset."

Glenn went on to predict that one of the first steps in the direction of a one-world government will be a push for a global religion.

"I think we're seeing the first church now being dedicated to the new global religion — and it is social justice, environmental justice, and all this gobbledygook. We all know, it's not just wrong, it is dangerous. That's the first church, the cathedral of Notre Dame, in France, is the first global church. Mark my words. Christian, Jews, Muslims ... this global church will bring darkness unlike you've ever seen."

Watch the video clip from "The Glenn Beck Program" below:

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