Hundreds of teenage TikTok users are claiming they are behind the starkly underwhelming turnout at US President Donald Trump’s Saturday campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
Social media users said Sunday that the army of teenagers deliberately registered for many tickets to the gathering and never showed up, leading to a lower-than-expected attendance.
Ignoring health warnings, Trump went through with his first rally in 110 days in Tulsa, Oklahoma, one of the largest indoor gatherings in the world during a coronavirus outbreak that has killed more than 120,000 Americans, put 40 million out of work and upended Trump’s reelection bid.
Trump’s campaign declared that it had received over a million ticket requests and the city of Tulsa prepared for an overflow crowd. In the end though, only around 10,000 people showed up, leaving Trump to pitch his candidacy to a half-empty arena.
Almost One Million people request tickets for the Saturday Night Rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 15, 2020
“We’ve never had an empty seat, and we certainly won’t in Oklahoma,” Trump said in a briefing, days before there were thousands of empty seats in Oklahoma.
— Will Steakin (@wsteaks) June 20, 2020
Just passed 800,000 tickets. Biggest data haul and rally signup of all time by 10x.
Saturday is going to be amazing! https://t.co/u2tQ812odW
— Brad Parscale (@parscale) June 14, 2020
Trump tried to explain away the crowd size by blaming the media for declaring “don’t go, don’t come, don’t do anything” and by insisting there were protesters outside who were “doing bad things.” But the small crowds of pre-rally demonstrators were largely peaceful, and Tulsa police reported a single arrest Saturday afternoon.
“We begin our campaign,” Trump thundered as he took the stage. “The silent majority is stronger than ever before.”
“My 16 year old daughter and her friends in Park City Utah have hundreds of tickets. You have been rolled by America’s teens,” political strategist and Trump critic Steve Schmidt tweeted, addressing the president.
“The teens of America have struck a savage blow against @realDonaldTrump,” Schmidt added. “All across America teens ordered tickets to this event. The fools on the campaign bragged about a million tickets. lol.”
i have three teenagers. two of them have a pair of tix each to @realDonaldTrump’s rally in tulsa; they registered to spoof POTUS & his campaign. one of them is sitting at dinner now, laughing and saying teens around the united states fooled the man. https://t.co/akLU9o8u3f
— C.J. Chivers (@cjchivers) June 21, 2020
The pump Trump and dump him initiative was praised by US Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a New York Democrat, who tweeted at Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale: “You just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations… Shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud.”
Actually you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID
Shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud. ☺️ https://t.co/jGrp5bSZ9T
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 21, 2020
The plan to sabotage the rally apparently spread quickly through social media among teenagers, while not gaining much attention elsewhere.
Trump supporters could reserve two free tickets to the rally per cellphone number. The campaign would then start sending election messages, but users could stop that by replying “stop.”
The campaign called on Trump opponents to reserve thousands of tickets they had no intention of using.
— Mike Madrid (@madrid_mike) June 21, 2020
“So my teen daughter, who has Snapchat and TikTok accounts, walked in and said to me ‘So did it work? Did the teens get all the tickets to the Trump rally?’ She’s known about this ALL WEEK and I just learned this an hour ago…” tweeted academic Roberto Quinlan.