Aug 22, 2023, 1:58pm EDT
politicsNorth America

Trump stans and haters are all excited for his possible mug shot

A screenshot of a shirt for sale on the Silver Lake T-shirts Etsy store.
Courtesy/Silver Lake T-shirts

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The News

The possibility of Donald Trump’s mug shot being taken and released when he surrenders at a Georgia jail has his devoted fans and ardent detractors nearly equally excited.

This would be the first mug shot of the former U.S. president to exist, despite having turned himself in to authorities on criminal charges on three previous occasions.

Vendors on Etsy that cater to both crowds told Semafor they are already preparing designs for new mug shot-themed apparel, and are expecting a crush of demand.

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The View From The Left

A booking photo of Trump would instantly become one of the most famous photos in the world, and it’ll likely be catnip for liberals who have dreamed of him being behind bars.

Lauren Koontz, who lives in Orlando and runs an Etsy shop with her sister and mother catering to liberals, said they’ve already readied their designs and are talking to their manufacturers.


“We’re going to open up preorders the second that it comes out,” Koontz said.

Some of her past designs include “Jack Smith Fan Girl” and “Don’t Say DeSantis,” a reference to Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill that Koontz said is their most popular. For her latest design, she is considering an image of Trump’s mug shot with “F around and find out” printed above it.

“The market’s going to be flooded” with Trump mug shot merch if it’s released, Koontz said, and “everybody’s going to be using it.”

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The View From The Right

Trump’s campaign has in the past used his fake mug shot to position him as a victim of political persecution, selling a T-shirt with the image that said “NOT GUILTY.” Mark Dice, the right-wing online personality and conspiracy theorist, sells “WANTED FOR PRESIDENT” shirts on his website with a fake Trump mug shot.

“The real one will be 100% one of the most popular T-shirts in a while,” said Paata Chikhladze, whose Etsy shop features a shirt with a fake Trump mug shot and dozens of other pro-Trump and anti-Joe Biden apparel, including those that read “I IDENTIFY AS NON BIDENARY” and “WHOEVER VOTED BIDEN OWES ME GAS MONEY.”


Chikhladze is planning to sell new shirts with the real mug shot, including ones that read “not guilty.” He said it was in “Trump’s best interest to have the real mug shot released, to make him more popular.”

But the New-Jersey based vendor said he actually voted for Biden. His Etsy shop “is actually dictated by the market,” he said, after he found that political merchandise that aligns with Trump and the GOP is the most popular.

“The more radical the design, the more people seem to be attracted,” he said, adding that he refrains from selling anti-Trump merch because it could alienate potential customers who support the former president.

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Room for Disagreement

Trump’s legal team doesn’t want a mug shot to be taken, and negotiated with Fulton County prosecutors over that issue, The Guardian’s Hugo Lowell reported.

And not all pro-Trump personalities are looking forward to a ”badass" mug shot.

Fox News host Laura Ingraham said last week that the idea of a Trump mug shot is a “sick fantasy” for liberals. “How is a mug shot of the former president in any way necessary or in any way good for America?” she said.

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Step Back

Fulton County Sheriff Pat Labat, who oversees the jail where Trump will be booked, likely on Thursday, suggested earlier this month that Trump would have his mug shot taken.

“It doesn’t matter your status. We have a mug shot ready for you,” Labat told reporters. “Unless someone tells me differently, we are following our normal practices."

Since Trump and his 18 co-defendants were indicted, officials have not confirmed that a booking photo would be taken and released.

Mug shots are traditionally taken to help police and the public identify a detainee if they flee. In his New York case, Trump's booking photo wasn't taken in part because he's not considered a flight risk and photos of Trump are ubiquitous.