Although many new ventures are created by government employees, these potential founders’ entrepreneurial intentions are rarely studied. Building on the pull–push theory of entrepreneurship, this study elucidates the relationship between government employment and entrepreneurial intentions through two opposing mediation routes: entrepreneurial alertness and life satisfaction. We also analyze a potential moderating role of two institutional factors, tax burden and corruption. We employ a mixed-methods design. Empirical findings from four archival data sources reveal that government employment positively associates with entrepreneurial intentions through entrepreneurial alertness but negatively relates to entrepreneurial intentions through life satisfaction. These two competing mechanisms are also differentially moderated by tax burden and corruption, revealing a nuanced system of effects. We use qualitative interviews to validate the quantitative findings and investigate different facets of this phenomenon to enrich our understandings.