While former US president Donald Trump may have made his name as a New York businessman, he’s had his fair share of failed business ideas. Others, meanwhile, grabbed plenty of attention – but for all the wrong reasons. And the rest of the Trump clan aren’t strangers to bad biz press, either.
From wanting to “sell” Puerto Rico to creating insensitive T-shirts, here are some of the Trump family’s sales ideas that caused trouble instead of making money …
Donald Trump Jr.’s Alec Baldwin T-shirts
The Don’s eldest son was recently criticised for trying to make a quick buck off the death of Halyna Hutchins, the cinematographer on Western flick Rust. The mother-of-one was accidentally killed when actor Alec Baldwin was rehearsing a scene on the New Mexico set and was apparently unaware the gun contained live rounds when he handled it.
It’s reported that the star – who has portrayed former president Donald Trump on Saturday Night Live over the years – was told by the assistant director that the weapon was a “cold” gun, suggesting it didn’t contain live rounds. Baldwin was pictured distraught after the incident. While the blame has been shifted onto the prop master, some Conservative personalities have used the opportunity to get back at Baldwin for his liberal political views – including Don Jr.
Don Jr. quickly started selling T-shirts with the slogan, “Guns don’t kill people Alec Baldwin kills people”.
Needless to say, the backlash has not been pretty, with Vanity Fair columnist Bess Levin even dubbing him “sentient pond scum” for the controversial move.
Donald Trump’s “you ain’t black” T-shirts
But that wasn’t the first time a Trump has tried to flog merchandise with a controversial slogan; during Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, his team started selling T-shirts stating “you ain’t black”. It referenced a phrase his political rival Joe Biden uttered last year following racial injustice protests in America.
While Trump – for the most part – refused to sympathise, Biden did but was criticised for saying: “Well, I’ll tell you, if you’ve got a problem figuring out if you’re for me or Trump, then you ain’t black.”
The Trump Campaign jumped on the backlash and started selling merchandise on their website. However, Biden eventually apologised and Trump was left looking like the bad guy.
Donald Trump once wanted to “sell” Puerto Rico
If you think selling distasteful T-shirts sounds bad, buckle up – it gets much worse. This one isn’t so much a business idea as it is a complete misunderstanding of how US territories work. Former Department of Homeland Security boss Kirstjen Nielsen’s chief of staff, Miles Taylor, confirmed last year that Donald Trump wanted to, erm, sell the US territory of Puerto Rico.
The former president allegedly suggested selling the Caribbean territory after 2017’s Hurricane Maria or swapping it for Greenland, because he viewed it as “dirty and poor”. Yikes.
Ivanka Trump’s Goya beans boost
The former first daughter had plenty of career opportunities other than her White House job, but she mistepped when she tried to boost Goya Foods sales after the food brand’s chief executive, Robert Unanue, showed support for her father. Donald himself tweeted about his love for the brand – which is owned by the Spanish-originated Unanue family – and Ivanka followed with a photo of herself holding a can of black beans with the brand’s slogan, “If it’s Goya, it has to be good”.
If it’s Goya, it has to be good.
Si es Goya, tiene que ser bueno. pic.twitter.com/9tjVrfmo9z
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) July 15, 2020
Since she was Donald’s senior adviser at the time, watchdogs questioned whether Ivanka had broken federal ethics laws, as executive branch employees are not allowed to use their positions to promote private businesses.
— The Trump Organization (@Trump) March 20, 2019
The Trump Organization’s “White House-inspired” merch
American presidents get plenty of work perks, but none have used their positions to flog “White House-inspired” merchandise … until Donald Trump. The Cherry Blossom Collection featured two T-shirts, a soap set and mug with the imagery. Trump – who sold the items online and in his Washington DC Hotel – was accused of violating ethics rules by profiting off of his presidency.
Note: This story was originally published on SCMP and has been republished on this website.