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Former Love Island contestant Rykard Jenkins recently found himself on a pro-Trump website selling “Make America Great Again” merchandise. His face had been used without his permission.
On Friday, Jenkins shared a tweet with a screenshot of the website next to his Instagram photo that had been doctored to advertise the MAGA hat.
“Woke up this morning to know I’m the new face for the 2020 @realDonaldTrump campaign?” he tweeted.
“In celebration of President Trump’s achievements and his re-election campaign we’re giving away a limited amount of these exclusive Trump 2020 hats for FREE, but only for a limited time or while stocks last,” the website ad reads.
The irony of promoting MAGA merchandise with a doctored photo of a Black man without his permission wasn’t lost.
“Hey let’s show that Black folks support Trump by photoshopping a MAGA hat onto this British guy, but first we gotta crop out Big Ben and the London Eye…”— Mapache (@mapache) September 15, 2019
You wear the hat and you're a person of color he's going to say his rallies are full of people that look just like you and how you love Donald Trump for all the wonderful things he's done for black communities, guess he wasn't aware you are British.— Gay McMillen Ⓥ🌱 (@GayMcMillen) September 14, 2019
Many suggested that Jenkins sue both President Donald Trump and his campaign, and others said he should ask for compensation.
Lawsuit.— Fran Adkins (@fran_adkins) September 14, 2019
Sue the US Government and the Trump 2020 campaign. pic.twitter.com/gi5QEzu8KU— ✭Ms. Alyce✭ (@GloUpElite) September 14, 2019
I think we can find the man a lawyer— Jason Graff (@jasonmgraff) September 15, 2019
Don't complain. Instead, tell them you want a % of sales. You'll get rich.— SpeckledBand (@SpeckledBand1) September 14, 2019
The Trump Campaign website just sold $900k in Trump 2020 branded straws. Yes. Straws.
Get that money, hunny pic.twitter.com/5eTyZMhjLP— Rain🎗 (@QueenofFanfics) September 13, 2019
FYI: You can put an end to this AND make @realDonaldTrump pay for using your image in such a degrading way without your permission. After all, being portrayed as a Trump supporter could cost you jobs.— Grandma Speaks Up (@GrandmaSpeaksUp) September 15, 2019
But Jenkins had other plans in mind. He reportedly said in response to one of the tweets asking him to sue: “Haha! Tbh I’ll be happy for a free week in Trump Tower.” The was deleted by Tuesday morning, seemingly in response to the backlash.
“Oh. So, you’re okay with your likeness being used to promote merchandise that has become a symbol of racism, oppression and division for a week at Trump Tower?” one user tweeted. “I guess everyone has their price. Trump Tower is a dump BTW.”
Says everything about you, even joking you would have a free week, at trump tower. Trump is a vile human being. NOT ALL PUBLICITY, is good publicity, believe me. Complain and get the picture taken down ASAP.— Tony Jepson (@TonyJepson4) September 15, 2019
Says he'd be happy to get a free room at trump tower. This is part of the problem— P.L.H.❤💙💚💛💜🆘️ (@Ariesgirl401) September 14, 2019
While Jenkins told BuzzFeed News he was “in complete shock,” he said he wasn’t too shaken up about it. He said he wouldn’t even mind some promotion through Trump’s tweets.
“Politics aside, I was cast [for] The Challenge [on] MTV. When they asked why do I want to go on it, I replied, ‘because I’ll be so great even the POTUS will tweet about me,'” he said.
Meanwhile, Trump’s official campaign has denied any involvement with this.
“We would not be involved in the promotion of counterfeit merchandise,” Tim Murtaugh, a spokesperson from Trump’s 2020 reelection campaign, told BuzzFeed.
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H/T BuzzFeed News
Samira Sadeque is a New York-based journalist reporting on immigration, sexual violence, and mental health, and will sometimes write about memes and dinosaurs too. Her work also appears in Reuters, NPR, and NBC among other publications. She graduated from Columbia Journalism School, and her work has been nominated for SAJA awards. Follow: @Samideque