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Donald Trump’s mug shot turned into cash cow by allies and adversaries

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Trumps mug shot turned into cash cow by allies and adversaries. AFP/File
Trump’s mug shot turned into cash cow by allies and adversaries. AFP/File

The mug shot of former US President Donald Trump, captured as he faced arrest on multiple felony charges, has become a hot commodity for profit-making ventures. The image of Trump, featuring his signature red tie, slick hair, and stern expression, is now gracing T-shirts, mugs, posters, and even bobblehead dolls.

Supporters and campaign managers are using the image as a rallying point, asserting that the charges levelled against him are politically motivated. Meanwhile, critics interpret the photo as symbolic of Donald Trump’s mounting legal troubles finally catching up to him.

Donald Trump’s Save America fundraising committee is cashing in on the mug shot with “NEVER SURRENDER!” T-shirts priced at $34.00, as well as beverage holders and coffee mugs. Trump’s son, Don Jr., is also capitalising on the image with “FREE TRUMP” T-shirts and posters.

On the other side of the political spectrum, the Lincoln Project, a Republican-founded anti-Trump group, is selling shot glasses etched with the mug shot and the slogan “FAFO” (an acronym for “F*** Around and Find Out”). Various mocking products are also cropping up on Etsy, including a parody Taylor Swift concert T-shirt.

Even a Los Angeles t-shirt store not affiliated with any campaign has joined the fray by selling tops adorned with the mug shot.

Political strategists predict that this image could be a significant fundraiser for the Republican candidate. Some believe that his fervent supporters will eagerly purchase merchandise featuring the image, further contributing to his campaign’s coffers.

Donald Trump’s manoeuvre to exploit the criminal charges against him for political gain is not new. His fundraising efforts, spanning his past and present presidential campaigns, have channelled over $98 million into merchandise operations, featuring items like bumper stickers, hoodies, and coffee mugs.

Despite the potential profits, questions loom about the legal rights over reproducing the mug shot. Mug shots taken by US federal courts typically fall within the public domain, though individual state policies may differ. Several US states have “right of publicity” laws, and federal trademark law also places restrictions on the use of someone’s image for commercial purposes.

The realm of political parody goods might offer some protection from legal claims, but experts indicate that Trump’s decision to sue would be more strategic than legal. With his distinct pose in the mug shot, reminiscent of his signature stance on the reality TV show “The Apprentice,” the image has become a powerful emblem for both his allies and opponents.

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