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.

President Donald Trump's performance at last night's final presidential debate was "brilliant" and "the best he's ever done," Glenn Beck said on the radio program Friday.

Glenn described the moments he thought President Trump came across as "sincere," "kind," and "well-informed," as well as Joe Biden's biggest downfalls for of the night — from his big statement on wanting to eliminate the oil industry to his unsurprising gaffes as the debate neared the end. But, the question remains: was Trump's "brilliant performance" enough to win the election?

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This is a moment "Cynical Theories" author James Lindsay probably hoped would never come. The liberal mathematician and host of the "New Discourses Podcast" recently came out as "unhappily" voting Republican, including for President Donald Trump, because the Democratic Party is now being controlled by a far-left movement that seeks to destroy our country and the U.S. Constitution.

He joined Glenn Beck on the radio program Thursday to explain why this election isn't "Trump versus Biden." It's Trump versus a "movement that wants to tear apart American society at its very foundation." Lindsay warned that if it isn't stopped, the left can toss out our rights by rewriting the Constitution — or abolishing it altogether.

"A lot of people don't understand what's happening with the election we have right now," he said. "They think it's a choice between Donald Trump and Joe Biden. And at the surface level, of course, it is. We're voting for each candidate to be duly put into the office of president. But that's not what we really have going on. We have, in Donald Trump, a man who's going to govern as we've all seen — the way he feels like he's going to govern. And we have in Joe Biden, a man captured by a movement that wants to tear apart the American society at its very foundation."

Lindsay noted the popular leftist narratives that call to "abolish anything they don't like," which now includes the U.S. Constitution. He added that "this is the movement that is controlling the Democratic Party."

"It is my belief, that there has been a largely effective kind of silent coup of the Democratic Party, that's turned it completely under the control of this movement. And that's what we're going to be electing with Joe Biden. So I can't do it," he said.

Watch the video below for more details:

Tonight at 9 p.m. ET, 8 p.m. CT, Glenn Beck goes straight to the source of the biggest story in the country with Mayor Rudy Giuliani, who takes us directly into Hunter Biden's alleged laptop.

Despite Big Tech's attempts to squash this story, there should be a mad scramble in the media to get to the bottom of major corruption allegations, but they're willfully ignoring it. However, this is not just a story about Hunter Biden. This is all about Joe Biden. It's a story Glenn has been investigating for over a year that traces back to Ukraine and China. It goes directly to the root of corruption within our political system: How politicians use their family members to enrich the entire clan and sell out their country. While the media looks the other way, Glenn asks Mayor Giuliani to show us the evidence. Giuliani details the chain of possession of the laptop and reveals news that he only had possession of the laptop days before the New York Post story broke. He says, "I reported this the day after I saw it."

He also drops a major bombshell on the show and says Big Tech doesn't want you to see evidence that "establishes with texts, documents, contracts" that "Joe Biden was a 10% partner with a Chinese communist … and there are witnesses that will come forward and testify to it."

Big Tech censorship is out of control. So to watch tonight's explosive episode of Glenn TV, you must be a BlazeTV subscriber. Because Big Tech is doing whatever it can to limit free speech, we're offering our most important discount on BlazeTV ever. Use promo code GLENN to get $30 off a one-year subscription, so you'll have 24/7 access to news and entertainment completely free of biased "fact-checks" and censorship.

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The Senate Judiciary Committee was set to vote on subpoenas to compel Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg to testify on alleged censorship and bias across their platforms. But that all changed when Republican committee members "expressed reservation about the maneuver," Politico reports.

Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), who chairs Judiciary's Subcommittee on the Constitution, was definitely not one of the committee members with cold feet. On the radio program Tuesday, he told Glenn Beck that he's fighting "vociferously" to ensure Dorsey and others testify before the November 3rd election.

"Jack Dorsey and Mark Zuckerberg are both going to testify. They're are going to testify in person. They're going to testify before Election Day. That's what I think should happen," Cruz said. "That's what I'm fighting vociferously to happen. Right now, the companies are negotiating with the chairman's office to discuss terms to come voluntarily. I don't give a damn whether they come voluntarily or under subpoena. They need to testify in person and answer questions for the American people about why they are trying to steal this election, to suppress the free speech, and to censor the press."

The subpoenas would require Big Tech leaders to testify on the alleged "suppression and/or censorship" of two consecutive blockbuster stories from the New York Post. The first story was about emails that allegedly came from Hunter Biden's computer which are currently being investigated by the FBI, and the second was based on additional emails that allegedly showed communist China directly offering millions of dollars to then-Vice President Joe Biden.

"Big Tech stepped in, and they've done something they've never done before," Cruz explained. "We know that Big Tech has been censoring individual conservatives, trying to suppress conservative speech. But the step they took here is, they blocked if any individual user tried to share either of the New York Post stories, [they] were blocked ... Sharing a news story, from a major media outlet is part of democracy, part of free speech. And not only that, they blocked the New York Post itself. Right now, today, the New York Post is not being allowed to post its own damn stories on corruption. This is ridiculous. It's a threshold that's never been crossed before, of Silicon Valley oligarchs declaring the authority to determine what the press is allowed to report, and who is allowed to see it."

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