Police in Austin, Texas were called to the Governor’s Mansion downtown in response to a call-in report that a strange man appeared to be living in the dwelling amidst the chaos of reconstruction. Upon entry, police officers found Henry Waldrep asleep on a small cot in the grand ballroom. Alongside Waldrep, they found a small crate with a makeshift cook stove on top and empty McDonald’s wrappers and several empty beer bottles littering the floor.
Police immediately arrested Waldrep for criminal trespass and were in the process of patting him down and handcuffing him when Waldrep told the officer he won the mansion in a game of poker with Governor Rick Perry.
To prove his innocence, Waldrep produced a set of keys to the mansion and a crumpled cocktail napkin from the Golden Nugget Casino in Las Vegas that carried a hand-written note honoring Rick Perry’s bet of the mansion in a poker game. Officers then called the Mayor’s office to determine what to do and it is then that they found out that Waldrep was indeed telling the truth.
A close aide to the Mayor confirmed that Perry informed them of the loss when he returned from Vegas in late June. “ Evidently, Governor Perry was a little down on his luck while playing in the No Limit Hold ‘em tournament at the Golden Nugget. With nothing else to throw in the pot, he decided that he’d bet the mansion. We had no idea the guy would take the bet seriously and actually move into the mansion.”
The aide, who declined to identify herself, told officers to let the man stay until the matter could be legally sorted out. Texas, unlike other states, has a law on the books that says when a poker bet is made, no matter how ridiculous, the bet is honored. There is a legal question, however, as to who is the rightful owner of the Governor’s Mansion.
Officers had no choice but to release Waldrep and let him stay in what appeared to be his official residence until the Texas Attorney General could investigate the matter.
The Governor’s Mansion was set ablaze in 2008 causing serious damage throughout the dwelling. It has been under renovation ever since. Perry and his family are currently residing in a leased home in West Austin and could not be reached for comment.
Asked if the smoke smell didn’t bother him, Waldrep replied, “Heck no. I’ve been living in a little teardrop trailer in the Nevada desert now for 3 years. A little smoke smell sure as hell ain’t gonna kill me.”