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9 of the most notable things famous people have said about Utah

9 of the most notable things famous people have said about Utah

(Ivanova Ksenia/

Estimated read time: 6-7 minutes

Each year, millions of people visit Utah. Many come to visit the national parks. Others are here for events or business or religious conferences. For decades in January celebrities, movie stars and famous figures of all kinds have come to attend the Sundance Film Festival.

With this continuous exposure to Utah, many high-profile and famous people have voiced their opinions on the state. Even before Sundance was an event athletes, authors and notable figures have made remarks about Utah. Here are a few of the most notable quotes celebrities have said about the Beehive State.

Karl Malone

The mailman always delivers—whether he's in the paint coming off a pick and roll or in the press conference afterward. The Utah Jazz big man was known during his long career for quirky and unapologetic comments to the media. Malone gifted NBA fans a plethora of "Malone-isms," usually in his trademark third person point of view, Whitney O'Bannon wrote for Deseret News.

On the location of his franchise, Malone said, "Lotta people don't know where Utah is, but it's in Salt Lake," claims File that one under "Karl gotta say what Karl gotta say."

Elon Musk

Business magnate, Tesla CEO, and the subject of perpetual tabloid fodder Elon Musk mentioned Utah when talking about alternative power at the AGU environmental conference in 2015.

In the video, he says, "You could power the entire United States with about 150 to 200 square kilometers of solar panels. The entire United States. Take a corner of Utah… not much going on there, I've been there." Utahns and outdoors enthusiasts beg to differ (based on the five national parks located in Utah).

Ty Burrell

The "Modern Family" star and real-life father and husband loves Utah so much, he moved his whole family here. According to a People article, he and his wife and two daughters lived here in between shooting his hit sitcom. In fact, he owns a few different eateries and a bar in the Salt Lake and Park City areas.

The jovial actor told People, "I loved it from the first time I got here. It's a very unassuming place, it's a very humble place."

Mark Twain

America's eminent 19th century author and humorist didn't have many good things to say about Utah. Twain (born Samuel Langhorne Clemens) traveled west with his brother hoping for a rollicking adventure seeing Native Americans and wild animals in the rough country.

9 of the most notable things famous people have said about Utah
Photo: Everett Collection/

He wrote about his journey in a travelog—admittedly, years later after he had forgotten much of his trip—published as "Roughing It." According to a Deseret News article, it included many unflattering descriptions of Mormon women as well as his disappointing meeting with Brigham Young. The mountains, however, enchanted him.

"…We arrived on the summit of Big Mountain, 15 miles from Salt Lake City, where all the world was glorified with the setting sun, and the most stupendous panorama of mountain peaks yet encountered burst on our sight. We looked out upon this sublime spectacle from under the arch of a brilliant rainbow!"

Post Malone

The lyrics of Post Malone's smash hit "Wow." say, "Everywhere I go/Catch me on the block like I'm Mutombo/750 Lambo in the Utah snow." Hope that Lambo has snow tires! Locals now claim the face-tattooed millennial rapper as a bona fide Utahn, a KSL Radio article says. After doing a show near the Great Salt Lake, the musician fell in love with the area and bought a nearly 13,000 square foot retreat in Cottonwood Heights to relax and enjoy the freedom Utah provides.

"It's free country out there," he told Rolling Stone. "Like, you can buy suppressors in Utah. You can do open carry. Walk into the grocery store with a handgun on your hip."

Dirk Nowitzki

Apparently the Dunking Deutschman isn't a fan of Utah—or of American geography. (Perhaps he took the same class as Karl Malone?)

"Utah is a bad city," Nowitzki told a reporter in 2001.

To be fair, Nowitzki later explained that there was more to the infamous quote, an ESPN article clarifies. The Dallas Mavericks played the Utah Jazz in the first round of the NBA playoffs, and their coach decided to fly the team home in between the first and second games.

A local reporter showed up at the airport and asked Nowitzki why the team wasn't staying in Salt Lake City, and the young Nowitzki—fresh out of Germany and with limited English skills—fumbled and came up with that answer. Jazz fans never forgot that disrespect and made Nowitzki pay for it every time he played in Utah!

9 of the most notable things famous people have said about Utah
Photo: Reina Lavulavu/

The Beach Boys

"Down in Utah/The guys and I dig a city called Salt Lake/It's got the grooviest kids/That's why we never get tired of Salt Lake." The Beach Boys wrote the ode to the city in 1965 which included nods to Lagoon, the winter skiing, and the cutest girls in the Western States.

In fact, the Beach Boys' hit "Fun, Fun, Fun" is inspired by a Utah woman! According to a KSL article, the woman's father owned a radio station during the band's height of fame. She told her father she was going to the library—yes, in his T-Bird—and instead went to a hamburger stand on 3300 South and about 2700 East. When her father caught her, she was complaining about the incident to staff the next morning at the radio station. The Beach Boys were guests on the radio show that day, heard about the teen's adventure, and wrote a song about it. What an ode to Utah!

Katherine Heigl

What would any kind of Utah list be without including Katherine Heigl? The Grey's Anatomy star moved to Utah in 2010 seeking a less fast-paced lifestyle.

"We had big dreams of expanding our family, moving to the mountains and having a quieter life," she told Good Housekeeping. "Utah is spectacularly beautiful, the people are wonderful and kind, it's an easy commute from L.A.— and there's no traffic!"

Heigl went on to gush about the lifestyle in Utah where "kids can be kids" and describes life on her Oakley ranch with her husband, children, and a myriad of dogs, cats, chickens, and horses.

Robert Redford

Actor and conservationist Robert Redford was the original celebrity to make living in Utah cool. The Provo Canyon scenery captivated the young movie hunk while on a motorcycle ride from California to Colorado in college, Judith Thurman writes for Architectural Digest. He then fell in love with a local Provo girl and lived a rustic lifestyle in between movie shoots with his young family on the two acres he bought for $500 in 1963. That land evolved into the world-renowned Sundance Resort when he eventually added onto the acreage.

"I could see development starting to descend on the state of Utah. I thought I had better acquire more land to protect it," Redford told TIME in 2015. "I thought that would probably be my legacy, to protect land."

Redford recently joined with Utah Open Lands to put 300 acres of pristine wildlife lands into permanent protection, in addition to the 1,875 acres of Sundance resort he placed into an easement years ago.

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