In latest cash grab, Trump mixes NFTs and political cultism

They’re just like baseball cards, according to Trump’s NFT website

OPINION
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Evan El-Amin/Shutterstock modified by Blockworks

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Former US president and courtroom enthusiast Donald Trump’s political merchandising empire has debuted a new collection of blockchain-based collectibles. 

The subject: Trump’s August mugshot, taken when he was charged with racketeering in connection with efforts to subvert a federal election in the US state of Georgia. The mugshot in question swiftly became political pay dirt, appearing on campaign fundraising emails and T-shirts. 

Which leads us to Trump’s new NFT collection. It’s a sequel to the 2022 clutch of NFTs, which was largely focused on Trumpain hero worship (figuratively and literally) and generated several million dollars’ worth of purchases. Some of those who bought into the collection later scored invitations to a gala event at Trump’s glitzy compound in Florida. 

A glance at the new collection’s website leaves one (me, I’m one) wondering whether we’re all being taken for a ride. Proudly declaring “Just Like Baseball Cards, But You Collect Them Digitally!” the site outlines how you, the prospective buyer, can score a chance at a piece of history for the low price of just $4,653 — that is, 47 NFTs at $99 apiece.

That piece of history is: A snippet from the actual suit Trump wore during his courthouse photoshoot in Atlanta. 

No, seriously, Trump’s “world-class” political outfit is out here with the scissors in pursuit of $4,700 a pop. “It’s all cut up, and you’re gonna get a piece of it,” Trump said in an introductory video for the new collection.

I’m less interested in the particulars of Trump’s NFT collection — though it’s funny that, per the terms of service, you can’t sell the things on any secondary marketplaces until December 2024, after the next presidential election — than what idt says  about the nature of American politics today.

Trump has long cultivated a kind of personality cult, built around an all-or-nothing merchandising campaign. Steaks, books, MAGA hats — it’s a strategy that accelerated with Trump’s first White House run. 

“I wish I looked as good as I do in those cards, that I can tell you,” Trump says in the promotional video for the new collection. “They give me muscles where, believe me, I don’t have them.”

Read more from our opinion section: Don’t use your NFT for that

Trump’s small-dollar donor army is the ideal mark for a never-ending stream of merchandise. The latest NFT collection, like the one before it, fits perfectly within that strategy. 

Considering that Trump’s campaign to be the second US president to serve two non-consecutive terms is spending boatloads of cash on his ever-growing legal problems, an NFT cash grab starts to make sense. 

Such a cash grab perhaps reflects poorly on the NFT space as a whole. But we can’t blame NFTs for their spokespeople, whoever they may be. As it is, NFTs have emerged as a handy digital tool for raising money — and quickly — and the move by Trump could portend future political applications as well.



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