Screenshot via Donald Trump/Twitter

Donald Trump’s fireworks display is a Rorschach test for your political beliefs

Let the anti-Trump conspiracy theory begin.


Andrew Couts


Published Jan 20, 2017   Updated May 25, 2021, 4:19 am CDT

Talk about an unfortunate typo of historic proportions. 

In the finale to President-elect Donald Trump‘s pre-inauguration celebration, a fireworks show blasted above the Lincoln Memorial spelled out what looks quite clearly like “U-S-R” instead of “U-S-A.” 

Given all the talk about Trump and Russia, the simple misshapen letter is already sparking a conspiracy theory among Trump’s detractors.

Here’s what it looked like in the video shared by Trump on Thursday night:

CNN reporter Brian Stetler captured another version:

And here’s a GIF, just for posterity’s sake.

Donald Trump/Twitter

Of course, the logical explanation here is that spelling things in the sky with explosions doesn’t always work out precisely as intended. But that hasn’t stopped Americans anxious about Trump’s impending presidency from calling out the perceived misspelling.

People who replied to Stetler’s tweet immediately noticed the suspiciously “R”-looking shape.

Brian Stetler/Twitter

The folks at Full Frontal noticed, too—as did unnumbered Twitter users.

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One of the few publications to report on the mushy fireworks display was Russia Today, a state-funded news outlet that the Columbia Journalism Review describes as the “Kremlin’s propaganda outlet.” The lede from RT’s report definitely isn’t helping stamp down the conspiracy theorists: 

A spectacular fireworks display on inauguration eve proved to be a real blast online, as the pyrotechnics left viewers open-mouthed when they spelled “USR” instead of “USA.” The goof prompted Twitter users to joke that Russia had “hacked” the show. Ha-ha.

Ha-ha, indeed.

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*First Published: Jan 20, 2017, 3:31 am CST