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Authored by Jacob Burg via The Epoch Times,

Jacob Hardy was happy to purchase former President Donald Trump’s new $399 gold-colored sneakers.

The former president unveiled the new sneaker line at SneakerCon Philadelphia on Feb. 17.

“I support Trump in many ways and thought it was awesome that he was releasing such a rare collection of shoes,” the Pennsylvania resident told The Epoch Times.

But Mr. Hardy almost passed on buying the exclusive sneakers that some say sold out within hours of being launched. At first, the price seemed steep for a pair of shoes he intended to keep only as a collector’s piece, but as the minutes ticked by, he finally pulled the trigger.

Now, after seeing their potential resale value—with some sellers listing them online for as much as $45,000—Mr. Hardy wishes he had purchased three pairs instead of one.

Mr. Hardy is one of several people who have listed the new shoes on the online auction website eBay. The presale for the shoes, called “Never Surrender High-Tops,” was limited to 1,000 units and they’re expected to ship in July.

Reactions on social media were mixed. Supporters of President Trump praised him for being the first president to release branded sneakers within his new merchandise line, which also includes cologne and perfume. He also sold non-fungible tokens (NFTs), billed as digital “trading cards,” in December 2022, which sold out in a day. 

Others say the new products are simply a way for the former president to raise money after New York Supreme Court Justice Arthur Engoron ordered President Trump and the Trump Organization to pay $355 million in damages in a 17-month-long fraud case brought by New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Former President Donald Trump greets attendees after introducing a new line of signature shoes at SneakerCon in Philadelphia on Feb. 17, 2024. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

The online store selling the shoes, GetTrumpSneakers.com, says on its website that the business “is not political and has nothing to do with any political campaign.”

The website is also selling another line of Trump-branded sneakers that are slated to be released in August.

President Trump’s various campaign committees spent more than $3.6 million on legal expenses in January alone, according to federal financial disclosures.

Some have questioned if candidates are allowed to use campaign donations and funds for personal legal expenses that may or may not be tied to a political campaign. A representative from the Federal Election Commission (FEC) told The Epoch Times that these uses of funds are typically approved or disapproved on a “case-by-case basis.”

The Epoch Times reached out to GetTrumpSneakers.com, the Trump Campaign, and the Trump Organization for comment but didn’t receive responses prior to publication.

Gold Shoes and High Prices

Even before the sneakers were offered for presale, a pair that President Trump brought to SneakerCon was auctioned off during the event.

The winning bidder, Roman Sharf, paid $9,000 for the gold-colored sneakers, which were also signed by the former president. He told The Epoch Times that President Trump had 50 pairs of the shoes with him at SneakerCon for “friends and family,” and it was one of those recipients who created the auction.

The eBay sellers who spoke with The Epoch Times were selling their presale rights to one of the 1,000 pairs.

One eBay seller named Khai, who spoke to The Epoch Times anonymously to avoid harassment, sold his presale sneakers for $5,000. Khai operates an eBay store out of California called Kppartners and will package and ship the shoes to his buyer after he receives them.

Former President Donald Trump introduced his new line of signature shoes at SneakerCon at the Philadelphia Convention Center in Philadelphia on Feb. 17, 2024. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Mr. Hardy said he bought his sneakers as a collector’s piece for himself but listed them at $12,500 in case someone is willing to buy.

A seller out of New Jersey who operates the eBay store Rinasbasement listed his presale sneakers at $45,000 after a potential buyer reneged on an initial $17,000 offer.

He told The Epoch Times his asking price is meant to honor President Trump as the 45th president.

Historically, presidential merchandise and memorabilia are largely used to raise awareness for campaigns.

Coins and clothing buttons were made to commemorate George Washington’s inauguration as the first president in 1789, according to the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian. Other early examples include sewing boxes, crockery, and plates.

As the party system started to dominate American politics throughout the 19th and 20th centuries, items like badges, ribbons, placards, hats, coffee mugs, and banners also began to appear alongside presidential campaigns.

Elizabeth Klaczynski, associate curator at the Virginia Museum of History and Culture, told The Epoch Times that presidential candidates usually price these items inexpensively so common people can afford them or give them away for free to raise awareness of the candidate’s name and political campaign.

However, Ms. Klazynski said, purchasable merchandise is largely sold by the candidate’s campaign and not by the candidate or an associated company.

Younger Voting Base

Mr. Hardy doesn’t believe the sneaker line was meant to offset the former president’s legal expenses. The presale for the shoes was limited to 1,000 units.

Mr. Hardy noted this would result in $399,000 before manufacturing, taxes, and shipping costs, which he sees as a small fraction of the multi millions that President Trump owes in his New York fraud case.

However, others see it differently.

Former President Donald Trump holds gold Trump sneakers at SneakerCon in Philadelphia on Feb. 17, 2024. (Manuel Balce Ceneta/AP Photo)

One eBay seller named Jay said the first thought that crossed his mind when he heard the sneaker announcement was that President Trump was likely “trying to counter all the litigation fees he’s accrued.” But, Jay said, he still wanted the first shoe branded by a former president.

“What previous president has ever released their own sneaker?” he told  The Epoch Times.

Jay operates an eBay store out of New Jersey called Kicks22llc and has been buying and reselling shoes for almost 10 years. He also refrained from using his full name due to backlash from selling the shoes.

Despite his initial thoughts, Jay told The Epoch Times that it takes considerable time to find “factories, material, manpower, or just infrastructure to make the shoe,” considering they were announced only a day after the fraud trial ruling.

However, he noted that it is also possible President Trump “could [have] had this as a plan in case things went awry” with his legal battles and the expenses they are quickly accruing.

Taylor, who operates the Texas-based eBay store TheAmericanGuardian and also wished to remain anonymous, sees the sneakers as a “brilliant way of reaching a largely neglected younger voting base.”

The 23-year-old split the cost of the shoes with her two younger sisters as an investment. 

Hate Messages and Harassment

Many of those who bought President Trump’s sneakers have faced considerable backlash.

After media outlets saw Mr. Sharf’s winning $9,000 bid for a pair of autographed sneakers, the story went viral with headlines alleging a “Russian CEO” or “Russian Oligarch” was funneling money into the former president’s campaign.

Mr. Sharf is neither Russian nor an “oligarch,” according to a recent video he posted on X, in which he explains his Ukrainian heritage and the struggles he faced after his father brought his family to the United States from the Soviet Union when he was 13.

After working “every dirty job under the sun,” Mr. Sharf said he joined the U.S. Army before eventually starting his watch reselling business, Luxury Bazaar.

But once news articles calling him a “Russian CEO” spread as far as India, Mr. Sharf said he received countless hate messages and comments, with some saying they would never use his business again.

Omar Fofana of Reading, Pa., holds his sneaker that was autographed by former President Donald Trump at SneakerCon in Philadelphia on Feb. 17, 2024. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

“You know, what saddens me the most about this whole situation is that over something as stupid as a pair of sneakers, it shows so clearly, once again, just how divided our country is,” Mr. Sharf said in his video.

The fear of targeted harassment and ridicule is why all but one of the eBay sellers who spoke with The Epoch Times asked to remain anonymous.

The seller behind Rinasbasement said he receives angry messages every day for listing the gold sneakers.

“I get hate messages about Trump all day long. It seriously takes a toll. I don’t know how Trump deals with all the hate. He’s got to have a super thick skin,” he told The Epoch Times.

One message he received on eBay said, “I wouldn’t pay a dollar for these Trump Tennis shoes! He will be in prison soon anyway!”

Another message said, “I’ll give you five cents for this garbage! What a rip-off!”

The seller said it is hard to “weed out actual customers from the trolls” but that he still gets legitimate questions, such as where the shoes are made. The website selling the shoes does not indicate the country where they will be manufactured.

The seller, who operates the eBay store Tech802d out of Las Vegas said he has received “tons of hate messages” after listing the shoe presale on the auction website.

One user offered to deliver “two metric tons of fresh cow manure since that’s all they are worth.” 

Issues Selling a ‘Presale’ Item

Some of the eBay sellers have faced issues with their listings, as the gold sneakers were originally sold as a presale.

According to eBay’s policy, “Presale listings must clearly state that they are ‘presale’ in the title and description and guarantee shipment within 40 business days of purchase.”

The eBay logo is displayed on the roof of eBay headquarters in San Jose, Calif., on Jan. 24, 2024. (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Since the Trump sneakers are not estimated to ship until July, those who are selling their presale rights to the shoes on eBay are technically at odds with the company’s rules.

While Khai from Kppartners was able to sell his presale rights for $5,000, others weren’t as lucky.

The seller behind Tech702d said eBay pulled his listing, saying it violated eBay’s presale terms because the sneaker’s ship date is more than 40 days away.

The seller operating Rinasbasement said eBay had pulled his listing multiple times after visitors of the website reported it for being outside of the stipulated 40-day window in eBay’s terms of service.

He has also had buyers making empty offers and backing out at the last minute, which was another reason he relisted the presale shoes for $45,000. The listed  item has 48,744 views and 472 watchers. The seller said this is by far the most popular item he has ever listed on eBay in the 17 years he has operated his store.

‘Vote With Their Wallets’

Nearly all of the eBay sellers who spoke with The Epoch Times said they wanted to show their support for President Trump.

Mr. Hardy called President Trump a “great man” and was excited to own an exclusive collector’s item emblazoned with the former president’s name.

Attendees make videos and cheer as former President Donald Trump takes the stage to introduce a new line of signature shoes at SneakerCon in Philadelphia on Feb. 17, 2024. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Taylor from TheAmericanGuardian eBay store told The Epoch Times that she owns “many Trump t-shirts, sweatshirts, [and] hats,” but this was the first time she invested in a collectible with the intention of reselling it.

The owner of Rinasbasement said he figured the shoes would be a “piece of history.”

Mr. Shapiro said the sneakers give President Trump’s supporters a chance to “vote with their wallets.”

“Trump, for one, has given his supporters a chance to kind of vote with their wallets by not only supporting him and promising to vote for him but also paying money for his products,” he told The Epoch Times.

No matter how the buyers of President Trump’s sneakers show their enthusiasm for the former president, for Mr. Sharf, it’s much more than political support. It’s an expression of his values, who he is, and the path he wants to see the country follow.

“There’s not a mean tweet in the world, there’s not an IG post, there’s not a news article that’s going to stop me from being who I am,” he said in his video on X.

“And that is a patriot of this country, a country that once let in a 13-year-old immigrant and gave me the opportunity to be where I am today. And I’m going to be thankful for that for the rest of my life.”

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