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.

Science did it again. It only took 270 million years, but this week, scientists finally solved the mystery that has kept the world up at night. We finally know where octopuses come from: outer space. That explains why they look like the aliens in just about every alien movie ever made.

RELATED: Changes in technology can be cause for concern, but THIS is amazing

It turns out octopuses were aliens that evolved on another planet. Scientists haven't determined which one yet, but they've definitely narrowed it down to one of the planets in one of the galaxies. Hundreds of millions of years ago (give or take a hundred), these evolved octopus aliens arrived on Earth in the form of cryopreserved eggs. Now, this part is just speculation, but it's possible their alien planet was on the verge of destruction, so Mom and Dad Octopus self-sacrificially placed Junior in one of these cryopreserved eggs and blasted him off the planet to save their kind.

This alien-octopus research, co-authored by a group of 33 scientists, was published in the Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology journal. I'm sure you keep that on your nightstand like I do.

Anyway, these scientists say octopuses evolved very rapidly over 270 million years. Which sounds slow, but in evolutionary terms, 270 million years is like light speed. And the only explanation for their breakneck evolution is that they're aliens. The report says, “The genome of the Octopus shows a staggering level of complexity with 33,000 protein-coding genes — more than is present in Homo sapiens."

Lucky for us, they landed in the water. Otherwise, we might be octopus pets.

They mention that the octopus' large brain, sophisticated nervous system, camera-like eyes, flexible bodies and ability to change color and shape all point to its alien nature. Octopuses developed those capabilities rather suddenly in evolution, whereas we're still trying to figure out the TV remote.

These biological enhancements are so far ahead of regular evolution that the octopuses must have either time-traveled from the future, or “more realistically" according to scientists, crash-landed on earth in those cryopreserved egg thingies. The report says the eggs arrived here in “icy bolides." I had to look up what a “bolide" is, and turns out it's a fancy word for a meteor.

So, to recap: a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, an alien race of octopuses packed their sperm-bank samples in some meteors and shot them toward Earth. Lucky for us, they landed in the water. Otherwise, we might be octopus pets.

President Trump's approval rating is rising, and Democrats — hilariously — can't seem to figure out what's going on. A few months ago Democrats enjoyed a sixteen point lead over Republicans, but now — according to CNN's recent national survey — that lead is down to just THREE points. National data from Reuters shows it as being even worse.

The Democratic advantage moving towards the halfway mark into 2018 shows that Republicans are only ONE point behind. The president's public approval rating is rising, and Democrats are nervously looking at each other like… “umm guys, what are we doing wrong here?"

I'm going to give Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi a little hint. We know that the Left has enjoyed a “special relationship" with the media, but they might want to have a sit down with their propaganda machine. The mainstream media is completely out of control, and Americans are sick of it. We're DONE with the media.

RELATED: The mainstream media wants you to believe Trump is waging war on immigrants — here's the truth

Look what has been going on just this week. The president called MS-13 gang members animals, but that's not the story the media jumped on. They thought it was more clickable to say that Trump was calling all immigrants animals instead. In the Middle East, the media rushed to vilify Israel instead of Hamas. They chose to defend a terror organization rather than one of our oldest allies.

Think about that. The media is so anti-Trump that they've chosen a violent street gang AND A GLOBAL TERROR ORGANIZATION as their torch-bearing heroes. Come on, Democrats. Are you seriously baffled why the American people are turning their backs on you?

Still not enough evidence? Here's the New York Times just yesterday. Charles Blow wrote a piece called "A Blue Wave of Moral Restoration" where he tried to make the case that the president and Republicans were the enemy, but — fear not — Democrat morality was here to save the day.

Here are some of these cases Blow tries to make for why Trump is unfit to be President:

No person who treats women the way Trump does and brags on tape about sexually assaulting them should be president.

Ok, fine. You can make that argument if you want to, but why weren't you making this same argument for Bill Clinton? Never mind, I actually know the reason. Because you were too busy trying to bury the Juanita Broaddrick story.

Let's move on:

No person who has demonstrated himself to be a pathological liar should be president.

Do the words, “You can keep your doctor" mean anything to the New York Times or Charles Blow? I might have saved the best for last:

No person enveloped by a cloud of corruption should be president.

I can only think of three words for a response to this: Hillary Frigging Clinton.

Try displaying a little consistency.

If the media really wants Donald Trump gone and the Democrats to take over, they might want to try displaying a little consistency. But hey, maybe that's just too much to ask.

How about starting with not glorifying terrorist organizations and murderous street gangs. Could we at least begin there?

If not… good luck in the midterms.

In the weeks following President Trump's decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel's capital, the mainstream media was quick to criticize the president's pro-Israel stance and make dire predictions of violent backlash in the Middle East. Fast forward to this week's opening of the US Embassy in Jerusalem and the simultaneous Palestinian “protests" in Gaza.

RELATED: Just another day in Iran: Parliment chants death to America after Trump pulls out of nuclear deal

Predictably, the mainstream media chastised Israel for what they called “state-sanctioned terrorism" when the IDF stepped in to protect their country from so-called peaceful Palestinian protesters. Hamas leaders later admitted that at least 50 of the 62 Palestinians killed in the clashes were Hamas terrorists.

“In our post-modern media age, there is no truth and nobody even seems to be looking for it …. This is shamefully clear in the media especially this week with their coverage of the conflict between the border of Israel and the Gaza strip," said Glenn on today's show. He added, “The main media narrative this week is about how the IDF is just killing innocent protesters, while Hamas officials have confirmed on TV that 50 of the 62 people killed were working for Hamas."

The mainstream media views the Palestinians as the oppressed people who just want to share the land and peacefully coexist with the people of Israel. “They can't seem to comprehend that in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, only one side is actively trying to destroy the other," surmised Glenn.

Watch the video above to hear Glenn debunk the “peaceful Palestinian protest" fallacy.

Here are a few headlines regarding the protests in Israel: 'Global protests grow after Israeli killing of Palestinian demonstrators,' the Guardian. 'Israel kills dozens at Gaza Border,' the New York Times. 'Palestinians mourn dead in Gaza as protests continue,' CNN. 'Over 50 Palestinians in massive protest are killed by Israeli military, bloodiest day in Gaza since 2014 war,' ABC News. 'Gaza begins to bury its dead after deadliest day in years,' BBC.

RELATED: Here's why Israel used lethal force during mass protests in Gaza yesterday

In each, the spoken or unspoken subject of the sentence and villain of the story is Israel. Innocent Palestinians murdered by the cruel Israelis. This is the narrative that the mainstream media has promulgated. Few have mentioned that the majority of the “protestors" that died were members of Hamas, the militant (and highly anti-Semetic) Sunni-Islamist organization that has been labeled a Foreign Terrorist Organization by the U.S. State Department.

A senior Hamas official told reporters that 50 of the 59 people killed in Monday's protests were members of Hamas, and the remainder were “from the people." So…they were all Hamas.

As usual, mention of such membership has been left out of the mainstream media's anti-Israel, pro-Islam narrative.

As usual, mention of such membership has been left out of the mainstream media's anti-Israel, pro-Islam narrative. Maybe they think of Palestinians as underdogs and they love a good scrap. Well, they aren't underdogs. But their outburst have been glorified for so long that it's near impossible to disagree with that narrative.