Matthew McConaughey’s Mom Talked Him Into Cheating To Win His 7th Grade Poetry Contest

Matthew McConaughey is a family man with solid values, but even he has moments of indiscretion. When he was still in grade school, the Dallas Buyers Club star cheated to win a poetry competition at the encouragement of his mother. 

The Oscar-winning actor ended up plagiarizing another poet’s work and was never caught. 

Matthew McConaughey’s mom convinced him to cheat on his 7th-grade poetry contest

Matthew McCaonaughey
Matthew McConaughey during an interview | Bravo/NBCU Photo Bank

Although it’s pretty common for kids to cheat on school assignments, it’s less common that their mothers advise them to do it. McConaughey talked about his mother at length during a recent interview with Graham Bensinger

“That is a great example of my mom’s outlaw sort of existential—talk about the queen of relativity,” McConaughey said. 

McConaughey ended up cheating after he read his original poem to his mother. She wasn’t impressed by his work and retrieved a book of poems that she liked.

“I’ve got a poetry contest, I think it’s around seventh grade,” McConaughey said. “I work hard on a poem, I come show my mom, she says, ‘Yeah, yeah, it’s not bad, keep working on it.’ I go back to my bedroom, I work on it for another hour or two, I come back. She has a hardcover book with her.”

She told him to plagiarize another poet’s work

His mother found a poem she thought would be more well-received by his peers and recommended he use it instead.  

“She opens this book, she goes, ‘Well, read that poem right there, what do you think of that?’” McConaughey said. “I open it up, I read this poem, it says, ‘If all that I would want to do would be to sit and talk to you, would you listen?’ I was like, ‘Wow, that’s good.’ She goes, ‘Do you like that one?’ … She goes, ‘It means something to you … then write that.’ 

Matthew McConaughey ended up winning the poetry competition


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McConaughey, a man of morals even in middle school, had doubts about if he should steal the poem, but his mother encouraged him. 

“I go … ‘But it’s a poetry contest that I’m entering my poem into … You want me to write this?’” McConaughey said. “She goes, ‘No, no, if you like it, understand it, it means something to you, then it’s yours. Write that and sign your name to that.’”

Eventually, he gave in and decided to use the poem in the competition, which he ended up winning. 

“So I wrote it, I signed it, and I won the seventh-grade poetry contest,” McConaughey said. 

His mother was a teacher for many years

What makes the story even crazier is the fact that his mother was a teacher for nearly four decades. Typically, you wouldn’t expect a teacher to advise someone to cheat on an assignment, but his mother had a unique background.

“She never had her teacher’s certificate,” McConaughey said. “She said, ‘Yeah, yeah, it’s coming, it’s coming.’ And she would just roll it … Until after about two weeks she would become so popular in school that they seem to forget about that certificate that was coming in the mail, which—there was no certificate.”