Former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House on June 24, 2020 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Drew Angerer / Getty Images)
There is very little that former President Donald Trump can do to anger his ultra-loyal QAnon support base, but shilling NFTs seems to be one of them.On Thursday, when Trump announced that he was launching a series of $99 digital trading cards with some truly disastrous graphic design, even QAnon supporters turned on the former president. The anger on Telegram channels and pro-Trump message boards was palpable. The day prior, the Trump team had said a “major announcement” was coming Thursday. Many from the QAnon community had expected—as they have for the last five years—that the “major announcement” from Trump was about how he was going to take down the deep state, arresting his enemies and taking control of America once again.
Instead, QAnon followers lashed out at the “shit storm debacle NFT announcement” as one Telegram user described it. Another called it a “foolish NFT cash grab,” while another described Trump’s move as “shilling NFTs for campaign funds.”The cards, which Trump falsely claimed “feature amazing ART of my Life & Career” (the former president was depicted as an astronaut and fighter pilot in two of the cards), seemed to be uniquely designed to appeal to his QAnon followers.The cards portray Trump as an all-encompassing true American superhero, which is exactly how QAnon sees him. But it appears that the cryptocurrency aspect of the cards made some QAnon believers angry. “This is shady shit,” one member of a pro-Trump message board wrote, with another responding: “A fucking NFT? He needs a new PR team.”Multiple users were also angry at the clear attempt to squeeze more money from Trump’s base: One labeled it “a dogshit play.” Another called it: “Cringe and tacky.” QAnon John, a major promoter of the conspiracy movement said the announcement was “tone deaf to a VAST MAJORITY of Trump’s base.”“Wait, whaaaa?,” one clearly confused Trump supporter asked.Some people tried to excuse the move by claiming Trump was trolling everyone with the launch of his digital cards, but as one popular Stop the Steal Telegram account pointed out: “How is it even an ‘epic troll’ if he’s literally taking peoples money for an NFT, which have long been established as worthless scams?”
“The reason this Trump NFT thing has QAnon freaking out so much is that their fantasy of Trump is that he is a Super Genius billionaire businessman/politician so when they see him shilling digital Trump Steaks it’s hard for them to process that,” Mike Rains, a researcher who hosts the QAnon-focused podcast Adventures in HellwQrld, tweeted.But just as quickly as QAnon believers criticized the announcement as a major disappointment, the community quickly did what it does best and came up with multiple reasons to excuse Trump’s money-grabbing scheme.
Some accounts pointed out that a Q drop back in 2019 mentioned a “Trump card” while others pointed out that it had been 1,700 days since that Q drop was posted, and because Q is the 17th letter of the alphabet, then it obviously means something very important.“At first, it wasn’t totally apparent what Trump was doing with this NFT thing, now it’s CLEAR that was a classic troll move/ploy to get the MSM in a total frenzy,” QAnon John, wrote on his Telegram channel hours after he slammed Trump for being “tone deaf.”When Trump posted a video on his Truth Social channel hours later, discussing how he will protect free speech—or “shatter the left-wing censorship regime” as Trump put it—if reelected, his army of QAnon supporters quickly claimed that this was the major announcement Trump had been promoting, not the NFT sale. (However, the official press release from the NFT launch began with the words: “Major Announcement!.”)Others performed even more complex mental gymnastics to reach a point where they were able to make sense of Trump’s decision to sell NFTs to his supporters, claiming that it was a plan to undermine NFTs.“The invention of NFT was always an attempt to clamp down on free speech,” one QAnon supporter wrote on Telegram. “What Trump is doing is clever, we all know the liberals will hate anything Trump supports. By creating his own NFTs he has destroyed liberal support for NFTs and thus shut down any notion that any Democrat can support the creation of the NFT legal internet censorship structure.”Despite the widespread ridicule of Trump’s digital trading cards, and QAnon’s initial anger, it seems as if no matter what Trump sells, people will buy it. Within hours of the cards going on sale, the website selling them announced they were sold out.