Trump unveils US$399 ‘Never Surrender High-Tops’ at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia, after US$355 million ruling against him

Trump unveils US$399 ‘Never Surrender High-Tops’ at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia, after US$355 million ruling against him

As he closes in on the Republican presidential nomination, former President Donald Trump made a highly unusual stop on Saturday, hawking new Trump-branded trainers at “Sneaker Con,” a gathering that bills itself as the “The Greatest Sneaker Show on Earth.”

Trump was met with loud boos as well as cheers at the Philadelphia Convention Center as he introduced what he called the first official Trump footwear.

The shoes, gold lame high-tops with an American flag detail on the back, are being sold as “Never Surrender High-Tops” for US$399 on a new website that also sells Trump-branded “Victory47” cologne and perfume for US$99 a bottle. He’d be the 47th president if elected again.

The website says it has no connection to Trump’s campaign, though Trump campaign officials promoted the appearance in online posts.

Donald Trump’s new line of signature shoes. Photo: Getty Images via AFP

On Friday, a judge in New York ordered Trump to pay a whopping US$355 million in penalties, finding that the former president lied about his wealth for years, scheming to dupe banks, insurers and others by inflating his wealth on financial statements.

That penalty came after Trump was ordered to pay US$83.3 million to the writer E. Jean Carroll for damaging her reputation after she accused him of sexual assault. With interest payments, Trump’s legal debts might now exceed a half-billion dollars – an amount it is unclear he can afford to pay.

Trump’s appearance was met with clashing boos from his detractors and chants of “USA!” from supporters who arrived at the sneaker event decked out in Trump gear. The duelling chants made it difficult, at times, to hear Trump speak. Some held signs that read, “SNEAKERHEADS LOVE TRUMP.”

“There’s a lot of emotion in this room,” Trump said of the reaction, after holding up and showing off a pair of gold shoes, then placing one on each side of his podium.

“This is something that I’ve been talking about for 12 years, 13 years,” he said.

As he spoke, the smell of weed occasionally wafted through the room.

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Some of those who attended said they were unaware Trump would be there, and continued to shop as a crowd gathered around the stage. Many in the audience said they were not from the city and instead hailed from nearby states and Washington.

The attendees skewed younger and more diverse than Trump’s usual rally crowds. Trump’s campaign is hoping he will be able to win over more young and minority voters, particularly young Black men, in a likely rematch against President Joe Biden in November.

This isn’t the first moneymaking venture Trump has announced since launching his third campaign for the White House in 2022. Trump last year reported making between US$100,000 and US$1 million for a series of digital trading cards that portrayed him, through photo editing, in a series of cartoonlike images, including an astronaut, a cowboy and a superhero.

Trump’s new sneaker website says it is run by CIC Ventures LLC, a company that Trump reported owning in his 2023 financial disclosure. A similarly named company, CIC Digital LLC, owns his digital trading card NFTs, or non-fungible tokens.

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The website states the new venture “is not political and has nothing to do with any political campaign.”

A Trump spokesman did not respond to questions about the event, including whether Trump was paid to attend.

The website describes the shoes as a limited-edition, numbered “true collector’s item” that is “Bold, gold, and tough, just like President Trump.”

“The Never Surrender trainers are your rally cry in shoe form,” the description reads. “Lace-up and step out ready to conquer,.”

Among those in the crowd were Jonathen Santiago, 21, and Danea Mitchell, 20, Trump supporters who drove from Monroe County in the northeastern part of the state for the sneaker event. They said they were excited to see the former president and praised how he interacted with the crowd. They also had kind words for the trainers.

“The red bottoms were a really nice touch,” Mitchell said.

She shrugged when asked about Trump’s legal troubles. “I think it’ll be an interesting four years if he’s found guilty, but I have no doubt he’ll be president,” she said.

Former US President Donald Trump says goodbye to attendees after introducing a new line of signature shoes at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia on Saturday. Photo: Getty Images via AFP

Also, there was a group of “cheer moms” from New Jersey, who said they were in town for a cheerleading event and decided to stop by for a chance to see Trump.

Karla Burke, 48, said she heard some people booing and making noise, but that most people around her had been supporters. “At the front was a different vibe,” she said.

As for Friday’s penalty in Trump’s civil fraud trial, Burke said it doesn’t change her support. “I think it was unfair,” she said. “They’re just going after him so he’s not the Republican candidate.”

Biden-Harris 2024 Communications Director Michael Tyler slammed the appearance, saying: “Donald Trump showing up to hawk bootleg Off-Whites is the closest he’ll get to any Air Force Ones ever again for the rest of his life.”

At a rally later on Saturday in Michigan, Trump lashed out at the New York judge who ruled he must pay US$355 million in penalties for fraudulently overstating his net worth to dupe lenders, telling thousands of supporters the decision was an “election interference ploy.”

Addressing supporters for the first time since Justice Arthur Engoron on Friday hit him with massive financial penalties, Trump made the unsubstantiated claim that the judge was part of a “left wing” conspiracy aimed at stopping him from becoming president again.

The former Republican president said, “these repulsive abuses of power are not just an attack on me, they are an attack on all Americans.”

Trump also repeated his lie that his 2020 election defeat to Democratic US President Joe Biden was due to election fraud.

Additional reporting by Reuters



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