Entertainment

What It’s Like to Be Named Donald Trump

We spoke with four of the other Donald Trumps of America, whose lives have become a sounding board for people's wide-ranging views on the presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

by Annalies Winny
Jun 27 2016, 6:01pm

Donald Trump masks being made in a factory on October 16, 2015, in Jiutepec, Morelos State, Mexico. Photo by Ronaldo Schemidt//AFP/Getty Images

A Facebook search for "Donald Trump" will yield hundreds of pages—some run by diehard supporters, others by virulent opponents—devoted to the presumptive Republican presidential nominee. But hidden among these politicized pages are a number of personal Facebook accounts for ordinary men who just happen to also be named Donald Trump. If you try to contact them, some balk at the attention and hang up the phone. Others are long since dead. Several have sought him out to acknowledge their nominal brotherhood, or to ask for a favor. Sometimes, they say, he asked for one back.

As a public persona since at least the 80s, sharing a name with Trump has long carried certain associations, but his latest iteration as a racist, fear-mongering yam makes 2016 an especially unfortunate time to be named Donald Trump. For many of these people, times were simpler when the Donald was merely a buffoonish billionaire with whom they shared part of their identity.

With the possibility that Donald Trump could become the next leader of the free world, the other Trumps of America have become a sounding board for people's wide-ranging views on the most famous and loudest among them. We contacted four of them through Facebook and various public searches to talk about what it's like to be named Donald Trump.

Donald "Skip" Trump. Photo courtesy of Donald "Skip" Trump

Donald "Skip" Trump, 70

Medical oncologist, CEO, and Executive Director of Inova Schar Cancer Institute, Falls Church, Virginia

VICE: Who is the more impactful Donald Trump?
Donald "Skip" Trump: In terms of helping people, I don't think there's any doubt that I've been more impactful over my career. That said, he's obviously a very successful businessman and has created jobs and generated a lot of resources for himself and his companies.

When did your name become an issue?
Mid-to-late 80s, I became aware of him. I wrote him a letter without saying it overtly but was wondering whether there might be some relationship because I'm not exactly sure where my Trump name came from before the late 1800s. [I also] wondered if he'd be interested in contributing to cancer research.

He didn't want to stay in touch or learn about what I was doing. Then a patient wrote to The Donald and said what a great institution it was—blah, blah, blah—and I got a nice letter on Gold & Bosch stationary congratulating me.

The third interaction was in 2010–11 when he contacted my office to see if I could help the son of a friend of his get onto a clinical trial that we were doing. It was the mid-winter, about the time we were gearing up for a fundraising campaign called Goin' Bald for Bucks, where you get your friend to donate money. I shaved my head for two to three years in support of this campaign. Mr. Trump declined the opportunity to shave his. But he made a sizable donation to Roswell Park Cancer Center.

He was always charming, engaging, and we had a nice conversation, but there's not a whole lot of interest in the work we're doing.

"People express dismay, as if I'm making [my name] up." —Donald "Skip" Trump

Does the name annoy you?
What's annoying occasionally are the responses I get from people when they realize that's my name. They say, "Oh, you're kidding or that can't be!" It's not particularly funny—it's just the way it is. People express dismay, as if I'm making it up. My dad was Donald L. Trump, my brother is Donald Trump. It ain't that odd after all. There's got to be something more newsworthy than two people who have the same name and one of them happened to be on a notoriety campaign. People say the strangest things, thinking they're funny of offering a unique perspective, and they rarely are.

But it has impacted your life somewhat.
It makes you realize the incredible invasion of personal space that really famous people get. It's given me a fair amount of sympathy for what they must put up with.

What do you think of The Donald's politics?
It's fair to say that I'm likely substantially to the left of DT's politics. But I don't think there's any way of knowing what Donald Trump's politics are. I find some of the things he's said—hopefully for effect—to be completely outrageous and unappealing, so I'm not a wild fan of his public persona and bombastic approach. But my personal interactions with him have been very different from that.

Have you ever tried to avoid the name, since The Donald became famous?
My mom gave me the nickname Skip when I was a wee tyke to distinguish me from my dad. I used to think it was inordinately informal and in formal settings I'd introduce myself as Donald Trump. But now it's too much trouble.

Donald S. Trump, 36

Disabled Army veteran, Maryland

VICE: You and "The Donald" both serve the country in different ways—do you think you have anything in common besides your name?
Donald S. Trump: I was interested in his campaign at the beginning. I thought, Maybe I can use this to my advantage. People always say, "This guy's crazy. He doesn't know what he's talking about." I thought his views on different topics were pretty interesting.

What was your job in the army?
I jumped out of planes with my parachute.

Have you ever had contact with Donald Trump?
I tried to contact him a few times when I was overseas in the Middle East. I was trying to see if he could send some memorabilia—some hats, something of that nature—or if he could actually show up out there. Sometimes a lot of famous people come out for USO, so the soldiers don't get so bored, and to break up the whole monotony of being out in the desert for such a long period of time. I figured it was worth a try. I've met with Lance Armstrong, different cheerleaders from different NFL teams. Nothing ever transpired from it.

"People used to say, 'At least you don't have his hair.'" —Donald S. Trump

Did your comrades in the Army comment on your name?
That's pretty much nonstop. I don't think it's ever going to end!

Some people would be really interested to meet me. One hotel I made a reservation, and I got there and they cancelled on me because we thought that was a joke. I said, "No, we actually need a room."

What was your first impression of him? What is your impression of him?
I wasn't obsessed with the guy, but in high school I did a report on him. People used to say, "At least you don't have his hair. You have better hair than him." But I didn't find his personality too offensive. He seemed really motivated to get stuff done. He built so many hotels!

What are your thoughts on him running for president?
Honestly, I've been looking at both Hillary and Donald Trump and I'm trying to decide where their core values are.

Donald Trump, Jr., 14

High-School Student, Maryland

VICE: What grade are you in?
Donald Trump, Jr.: I'm about to be a sophomore in high school.

What did you know about Donald Trump before he ran for president?
I didn't know much about him. I knew he was a billionaire. That's the only reason I thought he was cool. I heard he was the richest man on the earth. I thought, I guess I can be him.

Do you enjoy having such a famous name?
Sorta kinda. I like that I have the name of a presidential candidate. But I just don't like him. I think he's cruel and racist and he doesn't have any hair. He has hair, but I don't even know if it's real.

What advice do you have for The Donald, from a teenager's perspective?
He needs to improve his behavior and social skills. Put a filter in his head. He just says whatever comes to his head. What he said about the wall—I don't think he should have told us that. [People will] think you're racist. Why not just keep it to yourself?

"Sometimes when I play Playstation, random people who don't know me will try to come kill me on the game because of my name in my handle." —Donald Trump, Jr.

So in real life it's not a big issue...
No, but my Instagram [handle lists my real name] and somebody gave me a shout out, like, "Follow him!"— and one person said, "No don't follow him because he likes Trump." I had to explain that was my name. I don't like him but that's my name.

Sometimes when I play Playstation, random people who don't know me will try to come kill me on the game because of [my name in] my handle. If somebody kills me, they'll be like, "Guess what guys, I just killed Donald Trump." They'll tell the other people in the world.

Would you ever want to change your name, at least on the game?
No. That's the name my mom gave me. I'm not going to change that. That's disrespectful.

Do you ever get upset at your parents for giving you such a famous name?
I wish they would have put me as Donald Trump III, but they didn't.

Donald R. Trump. Photo courtesy of Donald R. Trump

Donald R. Trump, 55

Manager, IT quality management, and drummer, Greensboro, North Carolina

VICE: Is the name ever an inconvenience?
Donald R. Trump: Oh yeah, I have numerous fraud protection services for getting bank accounts and credit cards hacked. They're thinking: "Here's Donald Trump, let's hit that dude." Little do they know!

I've played drums in a blues bands for the last fifteen years. My bass players always introduced me as Donald Trump and I'm like, "Dude, shut the hell up!" We play at non-denominational biker bars covering the Black Crowes, a lot of AC/DC and Pink Floyd, Ted Nugent.

As he got more famous my name became more recognizable. Into the 90s, when I started traveling for business, I was all over the place weekly. And by that time he had the Trump Shuttle. I actually flew the Trump Shuttle several times between Boston and New York. The flight attendants would say, "Are you the boss?" I'd ask them, "Do you even know what your boss looks like?"

"My bass players always introduced me as Donald Trump and I'm like, "Dude, shut the hell up!" —Donald R. Trump

Has it ever benefitted you?
After a late flight I was staying at the Park Plaza Hotel in Oklahoma City, one of the higher-end hotels, and I'd just call the hotel. I never make my own reservations because it would take thirty minutes to get past the questions before I could book it. So I was standing there waiting for a ride—and here comes this super white stretch limo. They came out and said, "Mr. Trump," and [the chauffeur] gets my luggage.

But it's a great icebreaker. You don't know whether it's going to be, "Oh, that's cool," or, "Oh, sorry for you." But I never ran into any negatives before he ran for president.

Does it vary from place to place?
The local Republicans in Virginia—it's "We're voting for you 100 percent" in the whole region. In Los Angeles, when they see the credit card it's a look of almost pity that I would be named as him. It's a very different community out there.

Would you vote for him?
I would say I probably would. I don't know that right now I'm comfortable with any firm decision—I'm digging deep. I'd have to eat a lot of crow—take a lot of shit—if I were to vote Democratic.

Have you ever met The Donald?
Yes. I was on TV with him. It was Oprah's last season and it was the first time he and his whole family were on TV at the same time. He invited us to New York. He put us in his new hotel. We had use of his personal limo. I enjoyed him. Very friendly.

What did you talk about?
This was before he was considering a presidential run in 2012. We were sitting in his office and he asked me what I thought. We had a very open conversation. I told him, "Here's what the deal is. It's not for the money because you have the money, or the popularity because automatically you'll lose popularity. You'll lose control of your company temporarily." It wasn't beneficial to him, but he was clearly interested in making a change.

Do you think he'd make a good president?
He'd surround himself with experienced people. He puts experienced people around him to advise him.

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