13. John F. Kennedy was assassinated over the Federal Reserve.
The Theory: A shadow government of politicians who backed the Federal Reserve had the president assassinated because he wanted to regulate the economy and take away their power.
How likely is it? This theory is a total gateway into conversations about the Illuminati, so let’s just say it’s not a rabbit hole worth going down.
12. Baseball player Joe DiMaggio did it.
The theory: The idea is that DiMaggio was upset over the alleged affairs between his wife Marilyn Monroe and both John and Robert Kennedy. So he decided to use Lee Harvey Oswald as a patsy and get revenge for the deaths of Marilyn Monroe.
How likely is it? No way.
11. The “three tramps” theory.
The Theory: Three men were arrested after being found in a boxcar near the site of Kennedy’s assassination. Conspiracy theorists believed that they were too clean-shaven to be actual homeless men. Some believe that two of these men were E. Howard Hunt and Frank Sturgis (of Watergate scandal fame) in disguise.
How likely is it? The real identities of the three men have since been confirmed through arrest records. They were actual homeless men who had showered and shaved at a shelter the night before.
10. The driver did it.
The Theory: Another popular theory is that the driver of JFK’s motorcade, Bill Greer, double braked the vehicle after the first shot as a distraction to pull out a pistol and shoot the president. Or that he slowed down long enough to allow another shooter to land the second fatal shot.
How likely is it? Greer has been widely criticized for his actions, but most experts agree that the fatal pause was out of shock and most likely nothing malicious.
9. The “umbrella man” theory.
The theory: Louie Steven Witt, who appears in the Zapruder film, used a black umbrella to signal either shooters planted in the book depository or the grassy knoll to orchestrate the assassination. Or, in more imaginative versions, he shot a poison dart concealed within the umbrella. The filmmaker Errol Morris also explored this theory in a mini-documentary for The New York Times.
How likely is it? Even though he’s been mentioned in Oliver Stone’s JFK and The X-Files, Witt has said that he really had the umbrella to taunt JFK because he didn’t like the Kennedy family’s Nazi ties from World War II.
8. It was all organized by Lyndon B. Johnson.
The Theory: Lyndon B. Johnson orchestrated the entire assassination plot so that he could become president. The theory was corroborated by an alleged former mistress of Johnson’s, Madeleine Brown.
How likely is it? According to historian Michael L. Kurtz, there is simply no evidence to support this.
7. The “friendly fire” theory.
The Theory: Simply put, the Secret Service accidentally landed the fatal second shot trying to save JFK.
How likely is it? It’s the least ominous explanation, but there isn’t a lot of evidence to support it either.
6. It was organized by the Soviet Union.
The theory: Soviet Union Leader Nikita Khrushchev (right) organized the assassination, using Communist sympathizer Lee Harvey Oswald, to retaliate for the Cuban Missile Crisis.
How likely is it? In 1966, Col. Boris Ivanov, chief of the KGB, actually told the FBI that he thought the assassination was planned by a group, but not by the Soviets. When the FBI spoke to members of the Soviet Union, they were apparently under the impression that JFK’s death was part of a coup by the ultra-right. A book was written by a high-ranking Soviet Bloc defector maintaining that the KGB was definitely involved, though.
5. It was organized by Cuba.
The Theory: Essentially the same idea as the Soviets being involved, except with the Cuban military.
How likely is it? Just as murky as the Soviet Union theory.
4. It was organized the CIA.
The theory: Perhaps the most popular theory of the bunch: The CIA assassinated the president because of Kennedy’s plans to tamp down the agency’s power. This theory also ties pretty heavily into the “three tramps” theory listed above and has been used as a blanket catchall for almost every weird detail to come out about the assassination.
How likely is it? Let’s just say it’s nowhere even close to confirmed, but it’s also the hardest theory to squash and resurges in popularity every few years as more documents on the assassination become unclassified.
3. It was organized by Chicago mobsters.
The theory: This theory is surprisingly similar to the idea that the CIA was behind the plot. Kennedy was very involved with breaking up the power of the Chicago Mafia, also known as the Outfit or the Syndicate. Those who like this theory point to Jack Ruby, a mob-connected nightclub owner, murdering Lee Harvey Oswald as proof that the mob wanted to keep a lid on their involvement with the assassination.
How likely is it? According to the Warren Commission, there was no link between Ruby killing Oswald and a great mob-organized plot against Kennedy. Also, people who knew Jack Ruby claimed he could have never been trusted with a secret as big as a plot to kill the president.
2. There was a second shooter.
The theory: As vague as it is ominous, it’s often referenced as the “magic bullet” theory. Essentially it’s that Oswald didn’t act alone and had a shooter planted across the street on a hill overlooking Kennedy’s motorcade.
One reason this theory remains popular is because of a moment in the Zapruder film where Kennedy’s head seems to fall back in a different direction from where Oswald would have been shooting him from.
How likely is it? There has been no evidence of a second shooter.
It’s still a disputed thing, but as far as official reports go, the most popular theory that’s grounded in reality is…
1. Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone.
The Theory: A former Marine who defected to the Soviet Union went to the sixth floor of a book depository in Dallas the morning of Nov. 22, 1963, and fired three shots toward the motorcade, killing President John F. Kennedy.
How likely is it? Well, it is the official finding of the presidential commission’s report on the assassination of President Kennedy. But, according to a Gallup poll in 2013, 61% of Americans are pretty convinced he didn’t act alone.