6 things to know about Joe Knopp, candidate for Ohio lieutenant governor

Springboro filmmaker Joe Knopp talks to around 100 people on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at the Savannah Center in West Chester Twp. during the announcement of being Ohio gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci's running mate. Renacci, looking on from the right, is challenging Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in the May GOP primary. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Combined ShapeCaption
Springboro filmmaker Joe Knopp talks to around 100 people on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at the Savannah Center in West Chester Twp. during the announcement of being Ohio gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci's running mate. Renacci, looking on from the right, is challenging Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in the May GOP primary. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Former congressman and Ohio gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci tapped Springboro filmmaker Joe Knopp as his running mate for the May 2022 primary.

The pair will face Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and Lt. Gov. Jon Husted as the incumbents seek re-election.

Knopp, 47, is a relative political unknown, though he is known to many within the conservative Christian community with his filmmaking. Here are five things to know about lieutenant governor candidate Joe Knopp:

Knopp grew up poor: Knopp grew up in Philadelphia. His father left his family when he was young, and his mother had struggled with substance abuse. He was homeless for about two years at a young age. During that time, they passed a church that offered free donuts and orange juice if they attend Sunday school. Knopp and his siblings, without their mother, went for several weeks. The local school found they were not attending classes but were seen at the church, and school officials asked them to locate the kids. Knopp said a man named Wes Whitehead found the children. They were taken to an orphanage when Knopp was 7 and he lived there until he graduated high school.

Strong Christian faith: Knopp said he’s been a Christian since he was 7 while at the orphanage, but a about dozen years ago is when he “committed my profession to doing what God wants me to do,” he said on the Patriot Life podcast on Facebook earlier this year.

Combined ShapeCaption
Springboro filmmaker Joe Knopp talks to around 100 people on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at the Savannah Center in West Chester Twp. during the announcement of being Ohio gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci's running mate. Renacci is challenging Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in the May GOP primary. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Springboro filmmaker Joe Knopp talks to around 100 people on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at the Savannah Center in West Chester Twp. during the announcement of being Ohio gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci's running mate. Renacci is challenging Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in the May GOP primary. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Combined ShapeCaption
Springboro filmmaker Joe Knopp talks to around 100 people on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at the Savannah Center in West Chester Twp. during the announcement of being Ohio gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci's running mate. Renacci is challenging Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in the May GOP primary. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

Air Force veteran: Knopp joined the Air Force in 1993 because he couldn’t afford college. He passed an Air Force recruiter’s office which had a sign that said if you joined, the military would pay for college. Free college enticed him to join, and at 19 years old he was stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton. He enrolled at Wright State University and attended classes at night and earned a degree in finance.

Filmmaker: After the military ― he left in 1999 ― he worked in the finance industry. During that time he reconnected with a childhood friend who became a filmmaker. He joined his friend and helped secure funding and investments to help tell inspirational stories. His first film he co-produced was “Woodlawn,” a sports drama released in 2015. He has since produced three more films: “I Can Only Imagine” in 2018, “Unplanned” in 2019 and “The Trump I Know” in 2020.

Trump family relationship: Knopp spent six months before the 2020 election with former President Donald Trump and his family which resulted in his 2020 documentary “The Trump I Know,” which he wrote and executive produced. The film takes a close look at Trump’s relationship with the women he worked with during his presidency. During that time he developed a close relationship with the former president and his family, who are also in the documentary.

Ties to Dayton: Knopp said he doesn’t want to live anywhere else but in the Dayton area. He lives in the Dayton suburb of Springboro, and his wife is a Dayton native. He said to the crowd of around 100 people at the announcement of being Renacci’s gubernatorial running mate, he said, “I have no desire to live anywhere else” and “loves” to fly into the Dayton airport.

Combined ShapeCaption
Springboro filmmaker Joe Knopp shakes hand with Ohio gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at the Savannah Center in West Chester Twp. Renacci announced to a crowd of about 100 people Knopp will be his running mate. Renacci is challenging Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in the May GOP primary. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Springboro filmmaker Joe Knopp shakes hand with Ohio gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at the Savannah Center in West Chester Twp. Renacci announced to a crowd of about 100 people Knopp will be his running mate. Renacci is challenging Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in the May GOP primary. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Combined ShapeCaption
Springboro filmmaker Joe Knopp shakes hand with Ohio gubernatorial candidate Jim Renacci on Thursday, Dec. 2, 2021, at the Savannah Center in West Chester Twp. Renacci announced to a crowd of about 100 people Knopp will be his running mate. Renacci is challenging Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine in the May GOP primary. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

About the Author