In late June 2020, screenshots of a TrumpStore.com baseball priced at $88 began circulating on Facebook and Twitter:
completely normal baseball price, $85 was just too low, but $90 was just too much 🙂 nothing weird about it pic.twitter.com/UvyunMnsOL
— ☭ emily ☭ (@tayesadilla) June 28, 2020
Alongside a screenshot of the purported $88 baseball inscribed with “Trump,” @KingK4hn wrote:
completely normal baseball price, $85 was just too low, but $90 was just too much 🙂 nothing weird about it
In a second tweet, @KingK4hn added:
Half the people here get that 88 is a nazi dogwhistle
The other half think im just making fun of how expensive it is
— ☭ emily ☭ (@tayesadilla) June 29, 2020
The Number 88
It is well established that the number “88” is a hate symbol. In its Hate Symbols Database, the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) explains:
88 is a white supremacist numerical code for “Heil Hitler.” H is the eighth letter of the alphabet, so 88 = HH = Heil Hitler. One of the most common white supremacist symbols, 88 is used throughout the entire white supremacist movement, not just neo-Nazis. One can find it as a tattoo or graphic symbol; as part of the name of a group, publication or website; or as part of a screenname or e-mail address. It is even sometimes used as a greeting or sign-off (particularly in messages on social networking websites).
Although the ADL added that it “should be noted that 88 can be found in non-extremist contexts,” the organization also alluded to its use as a dogwhistle. A dogwhistle, in this instance, involves employing the use of coded signals to appeal to white supremacists:
Dog whistle is a type of strategy of communication that sends a message that the general population will take a certain meaning from, but a certain group that is “in the know” will take away the secret, intended message. Often involves code words.
Finding the $88 Trump Baseball
A search for “baseball” on shop.donaldjtrump.com returned no results — and the design of that site did not resemble the screenshot seen above. On trumpstore.com, however, a search for “baseball” immediately brought up the listing for the $88 baseball. A description read:
It’s a home run with our classic leather baseball. Hand stitched with a nostalgic design, our Trump Baseball will take you back to long summers. Display as the centerpiece of your collection or purchase for someone special.
The listing is archived here.
shop.donaldjtrump.com vs. trumpstore.com
Shop.donaldjtrump.com was a sub-site of donaldjtrump.com; its footer read:
Copyright © 2020, Trump Make America Great Again Committee. Paid for by Trump Make America Great Again Committee, a joint fundraising committee authorized by and composed of Donald J. Trump for President, Inc. and the Republican National Committee.
TrumpStore.com maintained an “About” page, directing visitors to visit its “flagship retail store” in Trump Tower, and reading:
Welcome to TrumpStore.com, the official retail website of The Trump Organization. We are thrilled to offer the very latest in Trump branded merchandise, apparel, headwear, gifts and much more!
Inspired by our portfolio of the finest golf, hotel and residential properties in the world, you can now shop the official Trump Collection online.
Visit us to learn more our about upcoming product offerings and experience the very best from our retail shops across the globe.
We look forward to sharing exciting collaborations and exclusive special collections. Welcome to the World of Trump!
The Trump Organization’s TrumpStore.com (which maintained a retail presence in Trump Tower) has a live listing for a baseball priced at $88. The number 88 is a well-known extremist symbol, used by white supremacists to signal others with similar beliefs.