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Trump hawks $399 branded shoes at ‘Sneaker Con,’ a day after $355 million ruling against him

PHILADELPHIA — As he closes in on the Republican presidential nomination, former President Donald Trump made a highly unusual stop Saturday, hawking new Trump-branded sneakers at “Sneaker Con,” a gathering that bills itself as the “The Greatest Sneaker Show On Earth!”

Trump was met with loud boos as well as cheers at the Philadelphia Convention Center as he unveiled what he touted as the first official Trump footwear. The shoes, gold lame high tops with an American flag detail on the back, are being sold as “The Never Surrender High-Tops” for $399 on a new website that also sells Trump-branded “Victory47” cologne and perfume for $99 a bottle.

The website says it has no connection to Trump’s campaign, though Trump campaign officials promoted the appearance in online posts.

The launch comes a day after a judge in New York ordered Trump to pay a whopping $355 million in penalties, finding that the former president lied about his wealth for years, scheming to dupe banks, insurers and others by inflating his wealth on financial statements.

The stiff penalty came after Trump was ordered to pay another $83.3 million to the writer E. Jean Carroll for damaging her reputation after she accused him of sexual assault. With interest payments, Trump’s legal debts might now exceed a half-billion dollars — an amount it is unclear he can afford to pay.

This isn’t the first money-making venture Trump has announced since launching his third campaign for the White House in 2022. Trump last year reported making between $100,000 and $1 million for a series of digital trading cards that portrayed him photoshopped in a series of cartoon-like images, including an astronaut, a cowboy and a superhero.

Trump’s appearance was met with clashing boos from his detractors and chants of “USA!” from supporters who arrived at the sneaker event decked out in Trump gear. The dueling chants made it difficult, at times, to hear Trump speak. Some held signs that read “SNEAKERHEADS LOVE TRUMP.”

“There’s a lot of emotion in this room,” Trump said, after holding up and showing off the gold shoes and then placing them on either side of his podium.

“This is something that I’ve been talking about for 12 years, 13 years,” he said.

As he spoke, the smell of weed occasionally wafted through the room.

Some of those who attended said they were unaware Trump would be there, and continued to shop as a crowd gathered around the stage. Many in the audience said they were not from the city and instead hailed from nearby states and Washington, D.C. The attendees skewed younger and more diverse than Trump’s usual rally crowds and some Black attendees were seen leaving to continue shopping as Trump spoke.

Trump’s campaign is hoping he will be able to win over more young and minority voters, particularly young Black men, in a likely rematch against President Joe Biden in November.

The new sneaker website says it is run by CIC Ventures LLC, a company that Trump reported owning in his 2023 financial disclosure. A similarly-named company, CIC Digital LLC, owns the digital trading card NFTs, or non-fungible tokens.

The website states the new venture “is not political and has nothing to do with any political campaign.

A Trump spokesman did not respond to questions about the event.

The website touts the shoes as a limited-edition “true collector’s item” that is “Bold, gold, and tough, just like President Trump.”

“The Never Surrender sneakers are your rally cry in shoe form. Lace-up and step out ready to conquer,” the description reads.

Biden-Harris 2024 Communications Director Michael Tyler slammed the appearance saying: “Donald Trump showing up to hawk bootleg Off-Whites is the closest he’ll get to any Air Force Ones ever again for the rest of his life.”

Trump will hold a rally later Saturday in Michigan in the suburbs of Detroit.

___

Colvin reported from New York.

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