Trump fans are shelling out money to hear him speak — even though they know 'he doesn't need financial help'
Donald Trump (Photo by Robyn Beck for AFP)

On Thursday, The New York Times reported that former President Donald Trump is now holding campaign-style rallies — even though he isn't yet running for anything — and charging his supporters huge sums of money to just come and see him speak as part of the "American Freedom Tour."

"The fees aren’t going to Trump’s political action committee, his $100 million war chest. This event was not a Trump rally, where attendance is free," reported by Josh Dawsey, Isaac Arnsdorf, and Sarah Fowler. "Instead, it was a for-profit show, more like a rock concert. The proceeds benefit Trump personally as part of a multimillion dollar deal to speak at the events, according to two people familiar with the matter who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss private conversations."

"The program ... is the work of a longtime motivational-speaker promoter with a trail of bankruptcy filings and business disputes across the country. A Trump adviser said very little vetting was done on the organizers," said the report. "A spokesman for the tour, Republican media consultant Larry Ward, said the 2020 election inspired the new business venture. 'The tour was inspired by a nation of disappointed voters and a love for President Donald J. Trump,' he said. Ward declined to discuss Trump’s financial deal."

The article profiled Terri Owens, one Trump supporter who shelled out big bucks to see one of these performances in Memphis, Tennessee.

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"At the far end of a white entrance tent, near a bus wrapped with a photo of Trump’s head on a muscular, shirtless body, were attendees who paid $55 for a pair of tickets as 'citizens,' a general admittance option. At the front, closest to the doors guarded by Secret Service agents, stood a 'presidential' tier who shelled out $3,995 each," said the report. "Owens, a 53-year-old nurse, bought a pair of VIP tickets for $800. She wasn’t clear on where the money was going — nor did she care. 'I really wanted to do my part in contributing to where he can keep doing what he’s doing, traveling around,' Owens said. 'I know he probably doesn’t need financial help by any means, but just to do my part in supporting him because I believe in what he’s doing.'"

All of this comes as Trump is mulling whether to actually declare another presidential run — with some Republican officials believing he will announce it soon, to try to take the spotlight off damning revelations coming out of the House January 6 Committee.