Donald Trump’s Potemkin Crowd

Trump Announcement

The crowd that cheered Donald Trump’s announcement speech on Tuesday was, not surprisingly, bought and paid for:

Donald Trump’s big presidential announcement Tuesday was made a little bigger with help from paid actors — at $50 a pop.

New York-based Extra Mile Casting sent an email last Friday to its client list of background actors, seeking extras to beef up attendance at Trump’s event.

“We are looking to cast people for the event to wear t-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement,” reads the June 12 email, obtained by The Hollywood Reporter. “We understand this is not a traditional ‘background job,’ but we believe acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of thought.”

The pay was listed as $50 for less than three hours of work. According to the email, Extra Mile was reaching out to potential extras in partnership with Gotham Government Relations and Communications, a New York-Based political consulting group that has worked with Trump in the past. Gotham GR had no comment.

Questions as to whether the Trump campaign had hired extras were first raised Wednesday by anti-Trump activist Angelo Carusone, who came across an Instagram photo showing a man he recognized as a background actor posing at the Trump event. Carusone screengrabbed the photo of the actor, Domenico Del Giacco, and published it in a blog post. The photo shows Del Giacco with a woman, identified in the now-deleted Instagram post as actress Courtney Klotz. (Del Giacco has since deleted his entire Instagram account.)

When reached for comment about the Trump casting call, a person who answered the phone at Extra Mile said, “We don’t know anything about that.” When pressed about whether this response was a denial of the story, the person said she couldn’t comment further and hung up. Additional calls to Extra Mile went unanswered.

Asked if Trump paid anyone to attend the event, campaign manager Corey Lewandowski said “no,” and that he had never heard of Extra Mile or Gotham GR.

“Mr. Trump draws record crowds at almost every venue at which he is a featured speaker,” Lewandowski told The Hollywood Reporter. “The crowds are large, often record-setting and enthusiastic, often with standing ovations. Mr. Trump’s message is, ‘Make America great again.’

Here’s the email that was apparently sent out last week:

Hi there—

We are working helping one of are [sic] associates out at Gotham GR – with a big event happening on TUESDAY 6/16/15.

This is an event in support of Donald Trump and an upcoming exciting announcement he will be making at this event.

This event is called “People for a Stronger America.” The entire group is a pro-small business group that is dedicated to encouraging Donald Trump and his latest ventures. This event will be televised.

We are looking to cast people for the event to wear t-shirts and carry signs and help cheer him in support of his announcement.

We understand this is not a traditional “background job,” but we believe acting comes in all forms and this is inclusive of that school of thought.

This event is happening LIVE and will be from 8:45AM-11:30AM. LESS THAN 3 HOURS

This will take place inside / interior.

The rate for this is: $50 CASH at the end of the event.

We would love to book you if you are interested and still available.

Please let us know and we will get back to you with confirmation.

There have been rumors in the past about politicians and public advocacy groups using one of these “rent a crowd” services to make their rally appear more popular than it actually is, but this is one of the first times I can recall seeing anything approaching confirmation. Given that everything about Trump is phony, it’s not surprising that his supporters are too.

Interestingly, when I did a Google search to see if there were images of the crowd at the announcement event Tuesday, I couldn’t find a single one that showed the crowd. They all showed Trump and the flag backdrop, and maybe a few featuring him and his family. There may be such photos out there, but it may also be the case that the press was put in an area of the room that made crowd shots difficult, for what may be obvious reasons.

FILED UNDER: 2016 Election, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. OzarkHillbilly says:

    The pay was listed as $50 for less than three hours of work.

    Just my opinion but I would say they were grossly underpaid. You’d have to pay me neurosurgeon rates to listen to Trump, plus I would need workers comp to pay for the counseling I would need after having such mental anguish inflicted upon me and long term care for the PTSD I would certainly suffer from. On second thought, never mind. No amount of money could ever come close to compensating me.

  2. grumpy realist says:

    The amazing part of this is if anyone will be surprised.

  3. rachel says:


    Just my opinion but I would say they were grossly underpaid.

    They still did better out of it than the Liberty University students who were forced to attend Cruz’s presidential announcement on pain of being fined $10.

  4. Slugger says:

    Potemkin crowds are surely not new. When I was in college, I went to the only rally I will ever attend out of genuine curiosity about the candidate. The area immediately in front of the dais was occupied by a small cadre of very enthusiastic people who were being coordinated by guys with megaphones. The rest of us, about 90% of the audience, listened and applauded politely. That evening, the TV station showed the candidate and the small group of enthusiasts; I decided to never go to a political speech again. I don’t think that the cheering throng was paid; I think that they were worse than that and had drunk the Kool-ade.
    Folks, what you see on TV has been sliced, diced, and editorialized for the purpose of misleading you.

  5. gVOR08 says:

    Trump is a fraud, a liar, and is totally unserious. I think he’s a shoo in for the Republican nomination. Well, actually not. He’s an amateur, and there are professional liars and frauds in the race, who are equally unserious about policy.

  6. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @rachel: I’d have paid the $10.

  7. grumpy realist says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I would have refused to go, and then have a wonderfully embarrassing mess to point to if my grades were lower than I liked (especially for a class where I was supposedly graded for “participation.”)

    Ooooh, I could have had so much fun with that. I’m surprised the university didn’t realize what a potential can of worms they were opening with that.

  8. Hal_10000 says:

    The longer this goes on, the longer we wait until he files with the FEC, the more I think this is a publicity stunt.

  9. Matt says:

    @Hal_10000: Oh it would be glorious to see this fool file with the FEC.

    That’s why I’m convinced Trump will never actually run. He doesn’t want people to know he’s essentially broke.

  10. Ron Beasley says:

    @Matt:I don’t know if he is broke but I’ve heard that he has less money than his father left him.

  11. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    @Slugger: And I understand that General Franco is still dead, too.

  12. Matt says:

    @Ron Beasley: Well essentially broke for a billionaire 😛

    Certainly less money then daddy left him.