A native Floridian going back three generations, Steve Berke was born and raised in Miami-Dade County. Growing up in the tropics of Miami Beach, he spent most of his formative years becoming a tennis phenom. Steve won four state championships and two national championships while attending North Miami Beach High. Steve was a sought-after athletic commodity after graduation, but he turned down several lucrative endorsement contracts, instead choosing to further his education and delay the start of his professional tennis career.
Steve attended Yale University, played number one for the Yale tennis team, and graduated with a B.A. in American Studies. While in school, Steve made collegiate tennis history, becoming the first unranked tennis player to make the quarterfinals of the NCAA tournament - an achievement that gave Yale its first All American since Donald Dell in 1960. After graduation, Steve finally turned pro in tennis, but after only months on the tour, herniating two discs in his lower back, tragically ending his career before it had a chance to begin.
The debilitating pain caused by his back pain meant that Steve was prescribed dangerous and addictive pain pills by the traditional medical establishment. Steve decided to seek alternative solutions to manage his pain. As a former athlete, and the son of two doctors, Steve was uncomfortable with the idea of taking 'illegal drugs' but was eventually prescribed marijuana by a doctor in California. As the marijuana managed his pain, Steve had to start questioning everything he had been taught about this effective and harmless medicine.
Steve took up a new challenge. He became a contestant on a reality TV show airing on FOX called, The Rebel Billionaire -- an Apprentice-like competition featuring Virgin Group CEO, Sir Richard Branson in the Trump role.
At 23 years old, Steve was the youngest contestant on the show, yet survived 11 of the 13 episodes, impressing Branson with his entrepreneurial mind and instinct. One of the show's challenges -- to improve the service in Virgin's Upper Class Suite -- inspired Steve to form his first company. His idea the 'Mooshpillow' won the challenge and allowed Steve to dive head first into the pillow business.
Always looking for new challenges, Steve decided to pursue stand-up comedy. A few months into his stand-up career, in a true rock n roll moment, Steve found his comedic voice. While hanging out in Berlin with Tyson Ritter (the lead singer of the All-American Rejects), Steve borrowed Tyson's guitar and played him the first verse of a music parody he'd been working on. Although Steve was initially hesitant, Tyson convinced him to finish writing the song and perform it on stage.
To date, Steve has written over 20 parodies, some of which he has performed live in comedy clubs, and some he has turned into viral YouTube videos. One of his videos, "Should Be Legalized," an Eminem parody advocating the legalization of marijuana, received over 100,000 hits in the first two days of its release. However, opponents of the pro-Prop 19 video reported it to YouTube, and YouTube subsequently placed an NC-18 rating on the video, effectively killing any chance it had in becoming one of the top internet videos of the year. YouTube's censoring of the video caused a widespread internet controversy and was under heavy criticism from both marijuana and free speech organizations.
The video, however, led Steve to consider a career in politics, especially after receiving overwhelmingly supportive messages from fans in more than 80 different countries. He hadn't previously thought of becoming a political activist, but after NORML put his video on the main page of their website the week before the highly publicized California Proposition 19 vote, he got support from the entire pro-marijuana community, gained a massive internet following and, seemingly overnight, became a face of the movement.
In 2011, Steve decided to take his activism to the next level and ran for mayor of Miami Beach. Using his comedic background and YouTube channel, Steve ran a campaign for the social media age, focusing his efforts on reaching out to young and disenfranchised voters. His platform included city employee pension reform, renovating the Miami Beach Convention Center, decriminalizing marijuana, and ending government corruption. The campaign was covered by local and national media alike, gracing the cover of Maxim Magazine and making the print edition of the New York Times (along with the front page of the online edition.) Ultimately, Steve surprised everyone by placing second out of the four candidates -- garnering almost 30% of the votes cast on Election Day -- and losing only to the two-term incumbent, Mayor Matti Bower.
Since the 2011 election Steve has continued to be active in the community. However, due to overwhelming commitments, he has retired from the stand-up comedy stage to concentrate on his career in production - both as a YouTuber and a Commercial Director.
This year, Steve is running for mayor again, but he won't be alone. A television camera crew will be capturing his every move for a groundbreaking, fly-on-the-wall style documentary about the campaign that's scheduled to be broadcast on national television after the election results are in.