The Grift is the Thing

Trump NFTs: just in time for Xmas.

Source: The White House

Via Forbes: Trump’s ‘Major Announcement’ Was To Hawk His $99 NFTs.

Former President Donald Trump unveiled Thursday a “limited edition collection” of NFT trading cards featuring cartoon-like images of himself depicted as a superhero, Hollywood actor and more, after teasing a “major announcement” on his Truth Social account.

First thought: this is a joke, right?

Second thought: the timing to get into the NFT market is well, terrible.

Third thought: perhaps one of the only existing fertile markets for such products would be MAGA types who have already demonstrated an unwillingness to believe in reality.

Trump’s foray into politics has got to be the biggest grift in American history.

To borrow a quote: “sad.”


FILED UNDER: US Politics, , ,
Steven L. Taylor
About Steven L. Taylor
Steven L. Taylor is a Professor of Political Science and a College of Arts and Sciences Dean. His main areas of expertise include parties, elections, and the institutional design of democracies. His most recent book is the co-authored A Different Democracy: American Government in a 31-Country Perspective. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Texas and his BA from the University of California, Irvine. He has been blogging since 2003 (originally at the now defunct Poliblog). Follow Steven on Twitter


  1. al Ameda says:

    We did it, didn’t we?
    We elected this man president in 2016, right?
    We did this to ourselves.

  2. Stormy Dragon says:

    Second thought: the timing to get into the NFT market is well, terrible.

    Showing up late to a trend and then losing a ton of money on something that would have made a ton earlier is pretty much Trump’s brand

  3. CSK says:

    My first thought, too, was that this had to be a joke. But nooooo…

    I think that everyone pretty much agrees that Trump’s first run in 2015-16 was a branding exercise. And, of course, the ego gratification of being the cynosure of all eyes at his rallies, and being the lead story on the news each night.

    This NFT stunt, stupid as it, is just the logical extension of that.

  4. CSK says:

    @Stormy Dragon:

    Didn’t Melania try to peddle NFTs of her image a few years ago? How did that work out? Didn’t she end up buying the collection herself for $170,000 or $180,000?

  5. Kathy says:

    It’s as if all he wants from his base is adulation and money.

  6. CSK says:

    You can behold the merchandise here:

  7. Neil Hudelson says:

    Interestingly, this is the product of a private company unaffiliated with Trump/Trump Campaign. They appear to have licensed Trump’s image for an untold sum to Trump.

  8. gVOR08 says:

    Yesterday Digby had the tease for this announcement. Do play the video. Then pick your jaw up off the floor and click through to the replies. Much merriment followed.

  9. MarkedMan says:

    This is actually typical for Trump. He often gets distracted by low dollar, low quality grifts. Trump Steaks, Trump Wine, branding deals with Singaporean furniture manufacturers, etc.

  10. Mikey says:

    Even his supporters have to see how unbelievably lame this is, right?


  11. grumpy realist says:

    @Neil Hudelson: They probably looked out there and thought: “Geez Louise, there are TONS of gullible MAGA people out there slavering at the chance to plunk down $99 (does not include taxes, handling or shipping) for a bunch of electronic playing cards with cartoon designs of their hero. And because it’s digital we won’t need actual card stock or packaging, because it’s cartoons we won’t have to worry about scrambling around getting photographer’s copyright, and we can always push these as a “collectible” even if our “limited edition” means “limited to the number of suckers we can get to sign up.”

    I don’t know if they’re taking advantage more of the Trump aspect or the digital-so-we-don’t-even-have-to-manufacture-this aspect.

    (Psst, guys–NFTs are a scam. Gottit?)

  12. Rick DeMent says:


    Interesting, the site can’t be reached.

    Looks like oodles and oodles of slack jaw morons are trying to be the first separated from their money.

    Ether that or they just can’t get the site to work in the first place.

  13. Stormy Dragon says:

    One thing to remember is that there are really only two types of crypto operations: con schemes and money laundering.

    So the real question here is whether Trump’s plan here is to rip off the people buying the NFTs or if it’s a way for parties that would not normally be allowed to donate to a presidential campaign to get money to him.

  14. Gustopher says:

    When I tell people that I’m having trouble figuring out what is real these days, this is what I mean. It doesn’t pass the smell test. It shouldn’t be real. And yet everyone is acting like it is somehow real.

    There’s something like this every week or so. Germans plotting to use an EMP to take over the government, install Prince Heimdahl XIII or whatever as king and restore the second reicht. Etc. It’s all just crazy.

    If someone figures out cold fusion, I’m checking into a mental hospital.

  15. Gustopher says:

    Also, he’s stealing Biden’s look with the aviators in some of the drawings. That’s really pathetic.

  16. CSK says:

    @Rick DeMent:

    It takes a little while for it to load. Or you could be right about idiots crashing it in a desperate desire to throw away their money.

    ETA: I think the site has crashed. The link I provided goes to it.

  17. Chip Daniels says:

    You haven’t seen anything yet.
    His next MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT will be auctioning off naming rights to himself.

    Currently the leading contenders are:
    Donald John Mountain Dew Trump
    Donald John Trump
    Donald John Slappy McSlapface Trump

  18. @Mikey: To which I can only remind you that this exists.

  19. Kathy says:
  20. CSK says:

    Trump announced yesterday that his MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT would be made today.

    Also yesterday: His poll numbers hit their lowest point in more than seven years.


  21. Chip Daniels says:

    A ripoff you say?

    On-brand, I say.

  22. CSK says:

    @Steven L. Taylor:

    I really like the portrait titled “Saving Generation.” What is Trump–an obstetrician?

  23. Neil Hudelson says:

    @grumpy realist:
    The NFTers *might* be able to abscond with enough cash to make up for whatever the untold limp sum to Trump was. I wouldn’t count on it. Trump, however, has his lump sum at the end of the day. To coin a phrase, it’s the art of a deal.

  24. Neil Hudelson says:

    @Neil Hudelson:

    And hey, if it works? Look who’s the new pitchman for blatant cons. He can be the shamwow guy for pyramid schemes.

  25. Stormy Dragon says:


    Also, he’s stealing Biden’s look with the aviators in some of the drawings. That’s really pathetic.

    I think it was actually copying DeSantis’s “Top Gov” ad from this summer, so it’s more he was stealing DeSantis stealing Biden’s look

  26. Sleeping Dog says:

    @grumpy realist:

    What type of shipping and handling do you have on an NFT? After all it’s ether.

  27. gVOR08 says:

    Yesterday, in the context of presidents not having much control of the economy, I noted that every GOP prez since WWII has presided over the start of a recession. Above @gVOR08: I suggest looking at replies to the linked tweet. One of the replies underlines my comment. It’s photos of the last six GOP prez, Nixon, Ford, Reagan, Bush, Bush, and Trump captioned,

    32 years, 335 indictments. 15 wars. 6 economic recessions,. Millions of lives lost. 1 political party.

    His count’s wrong. Using WIKI’s list of U. S. recessions W had two. Starting with Nixon we’ve had eight recession, seven under these six GOPs. And leaving Eisenhower out actually makes them look better, he had 3. Why, in the name of Gawd, does anybody vote for these people? (Rhetorical. Because they’re very good at pretending to represent the interests of the people whose interests they oppose. And it ain’t just Trump.)

  28. Kathy says:

    @Chip Daniels:

    If we re-wrote that movie to feature Benito, he’d wake up to find himself the dumbest person on Earth. The only thing wrong he’d see with Brawndo is that it’s not called Cheeto Water.

    On the bright side, he totally would find out what a nuke does to a hurricane.

  29. Pylon says:

    One of the bonuses buyers are supposed to get, depending on the level of purchase, is an entry for a dinner with his Orangeness. IIRC he’s been accused of never honoring those types of offers in previous fundraising scams.

  30. CSK says:

    During his Trump University scam he advertised that students would have their picture taken with him.

    They got a picture of themselves standing next to a cardboard cut-out of him. Oh, well. At least it was life-sized.

  31. MarkedMan says:

    Saw an item on the NFT trading card thing and if it’s correct it now makes perfect sense to me. Basically Trump licensed his name to these scam artists, as he has a thousand times before. He doesn’t have a dime of his own money in this. He may have OKed the portraits but no one ever accused him of having good taste. We know from court records from his past scams that the basic setup is that he gets a large chunk up front to use his name and then gets a commission on every sucker he brings to the table, so he promotes the heck out of it until it eventually falls apart. And when it falls apart he has no liability because he’s just a vendor.

    As to why he did this in the middle of a Presidential Campaign and in a way that would heighten people’s political expectations and then crush them? Well, as I’ve said and will continue to say, the most important thing to know about Donald John Trump is that he is a moron.

  32. Jen says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: OMG.

    I am speechless. What is wrong with these people???!!??

  33. CSK says:

    His remaining fans will tell you this proves he’s a genius businessman.

  34. senyordave says:

    @Kathy: @Kathy: Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho gets a bad rap. He would have been a much better choice for president than Trump. Just comparing the two, here’s a few points:
    1. Camacho actually tries to do a good job as president and cares about the country. Trump barely pretended to care about the country.
    2. Camacho appears to be significantly smarter than most Americans, definitely cannot say the same for Trump.
    3. Camacho has real accomplishments, besides being president he was Five-time Ultimate Smackdown Champion and a porn superstar (something Trump could only dream of, based on Stormy Daniels’s remarks).
    4. The best Camacho quote beats anything that Trump has ever said:
    So you’re smart, huh? I thought your head would be bigger. Looks like a peanut!

  35. grumpy realist says:

    @Sleeping Dog: Of course, but that doesn’t mean the seller can’t charge for “shipping & handling”, no?

    Easy way to wheedle another $15.99 out of the suckers, right? For shipping electrons down a wire?

    (Heck, considering the kerfuffle over “green energy” I’m surprised that someone hasn’t tried to take that tack yet–getting your NFT delivered to you using green energy and it only costs you an extra $19.99. What’s probably holding it up is that the NFT collectors and the green energy populations are different sets of people.)

  36. Kathy says:


    Well, as I’ve said and will continue to say, the most important thing to know about Donald John Trump is that he is a moron.

    What does it say of his base that he needs to constantly remind them?


    Absolutely. Also, Camacho was a nice guy, not a bitter, cruel, old troll.

  37. Kathy says:

    @grumpy realist:

    There was a Johnny Carson bit I vaguely recall, where he answered scientific questions playing a professor type character.

    Once he was asked if there is an amount greater than infinity.

    “Yes,” he replied. “Infinity plus shipping and handling.”

    At the time, I thought that was hilarious.

  38. Stormy Dragon says:


    5. When he’s not sure what to do about a problem, Camacho’s natural instinct is to try and find an expert and then do what the expert recommends.

  39. Hal_10000 says:

    What. The. Heck?

    I swear, this man has brain worms.

  40. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: John F. Kennedy????? How did JFK make it into Jon Mc Naughton’s pantheon of heroes?

    Or are those guys the only 7 presidents he knows the names of?

  41. dazedandconfused says:

    Initial results are bigly un-good.

  42. Mikey says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I know you are not fond of the word “cult” to describe Trump supporters, but…

  43. Kathy says:


    We know from court records from his past scams that the basic setup is that he gets a large chunk up front to use his name and then gets a commission on every sucker he brings to the table, so he promotes the heck out of it until it eventually falls apart. And when it falls apart he has no liability because he’s just a vendor.

    This answers one question and raises another.

    It answers how come he never learns anything and keeps falling upward. If he never experiences a loss, and gets paid even if the money people go broke or lose their shirts, he has no incentive to learn anything.

    The question raised is why isn’t his brand tarnished worse than a penny dunked in peroxide? Better brands than his have been irrevocably tarnished for far less.

    Sure, his name is poison in much of the world, but look at his base, and much worse at the mainstream Republiqans who still favor him.

    there is one likely explanation: you can’t make a tarnished brand more tarnished. The rubes just don’t care.

  44. @Just nutha ignint cracker: Do not ask me to explain anything on that site!

    @Mikey: I reject “cult” as means of explaining all GOP voters or to explain Trump overall, but people who would buy that “art”? I won’t argue about the cultishness of that!

  45. MarkedMan says:

    So I just watched Seth Meyers monolog which, of course, led off with this. And I just realized these EFTs were animated and the lasers were actually shooting out of his eyeballs. Oh. My. F’ing. God.

    I think this may actually do him in. To even see that is to cringe in embarrassment. And everyone is going to see that.

  46. Just nutha ignint cracker says:

    @Steven L. Taylor: I wasn’t really expecting anyone to have an answer; I only replied with your link so that others would know the context of the question. But…
    wowsers. Every time I start to think the followers will start to cohere into something that can be understood, something like that picture happens. Yikes.

  47. Mikey says:

    Right-wing provocateur and Jan 6 rioter Baked Alaska, who has pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge that could get him a 6 month sentence, tweeted “can’t believe I’m going to jail for an NFT salesman” and if Schadenfreude were toxic I’d be dead now.

  48. LexinLA says:

    Okay y’all…

    I guess I’m the only one who appreciated the humor in the whole MAJOR ANNOUNCEMENT! preview thing.

    Because with the timing of the holidays and all, it really reminds me of the MAJOR AWARD! the dad won in The Christmas Story. But somehow, the surprise is possibly even more ridiculous than a leg lamp.

    Just me? ;⁠-⁠)

    Maybe so, but wanted to pop in and wish you all a wonderful holiday season and thank y’all for another year of intelligent and insightful commentary. After following this blog for several years now, I feel like I “know” a lot of y’all and just wanted to extend my best wishes for a happy holiday and successful new year!

  49. @LexinLA: Good call.