Several days after Donald Trump reportedly described Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” in front of lawmakers, he’s still facing pushback. The African Union called for an apology, but some are looking to see what Trump has to say about how Wakanda.
Taking to Twitter, writer and comedian Sara Benincasa offered journalists $300 to ask Trump how he feels about the relationship between the U.S. and Wakanda—the fictional African country that’s home to the Marvel superhero Black Panther. She got the idea after seeing the Black List founder Franklin Leonard tweet a question to Trump about Wakandan relations.
Mr President, with a surge in immigration from the African nation of Wakanda on the immediate horizon, would you be willing to increase their lottery allocation in exchange for expanded access to vibranium deposits?
— Franklin Leonard (@franklinleonard) January 12, 2018
She even had tips on how journalists could pull off asking a fake question like this.
To make the offer even more tempting, others started to add their own rewards on top of Benincasa’s original offer. There’s even an emerging hashtag for the eventual scandal, #Wakandagate.
— Scott Hanselman (@shanselman) January 14, 2018
I’ll tack on another $500. The pot is now $800 https://t.co/61cifhchj4
— Roy Wood Jr- Ex Jedi (@roywoodjr) January 14, 2018
When will @realDonaldTrump address how his recent comments affect our relations with Wakanda? I'm as serious as a heart attack about this. They're our #1 vibranium supplier, and we can't afford to alienate them. #wakandagate
— Mike Cecchini (@wayoutstuff) January 13, 2018
Marvel’s Wakanda, a secretive country that’s far more technologically advanced than the U.S., is on fans’ minds in part because we’ll see it brought to life next month in the highly anticipated Black Panther movie. If Trump were to attempt an actual answer on U.S./Wakandan relations, the president would embarrass himself by not knowing that Wakanda doesn’t exist. It’s likely Trump isn’t caught up on Marvel movies or comics, so he wouldn’t know about Wakanda or its ruler, T’Challa.
Though journalists are unlikely to take the bait, it wouldn’t be the first time Trump mixed up fact and fiction. He recently celebrated delivering F-52 fighter jets—a model that only exists in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare—to Norway and appeared to refer to “Nambia,” an African country that doesn’t exist, during a luncheon with African leaders. (According to the White House transcript from the event, Trump was supposed to say “Namibia” in his remarks.)
Trump hasn’t held a solo press conference in nearly a year, so opportunities for the press to ask Trump questions are limited to joint press conferences—where Trump can call on a handful of reporters—and instances where they can shout questions as he’s about to board a plane or get into a car. Apart from policy questions, there are numerous scandals and controversies surrounding the Trump administration that reporters want to ask about. A joke question about Wakanda is unlikely to be a priority. Plus there’s a potential question of ethics, but Benincasa does say that the recipient could donate the money to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
And as Benincasa notes, she just wanted to make people laugh—although if someone does pull it off, she will pay them.
Of course, reporters aren’t the only avenue to getting Trump’s attention. Someone Trump follows on Twitter could mention it, or it could turn up on Fox & Friends. How would the president respond? Who even knows?