Donald Trump predicted that 1 million people would be trying to attend his campaign rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma on Saturday. Since the BOK Center could only seat 19,000 people, the campaign set up an outdoor stage to appease the expected overflow of attendees. However, on June 20, the arena inside was barely filled.
Mary Jo Laupp, a 51-year-old grandmother from Fort Dodge, Iowa, may have had something to do with those overinflated numbers and empty seats. Laupp launched a campaign on TikTok in order to overinflate the campaign’s ticket request numbers after learning Trump planned the rally to be held on Juneteenth.
Nearly two weeks ago, she made a Tik Tok video to encourage users to go to Trump’s website, register to attend the event — and then not show up. At the time, Laupp only had about 1,000 followers on the social media app, but the video went viral overnight.
Laupp, who’s a high school teacher, and worked on Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign, posted the video with the caption, “Did you know you can make sure there are empty seats at Trump’s rally? #BLM.” The video has been viewed over 700,000 times. In her Tik Tok video, she states, “All of those of us that want to see this 19,000 seat auditorium barely filled or completely empty go reserve tickets now and leave him standing alone there on the stage.”
— (NOT) Dr Anthony Fauci (@notdrfauci) June 21, 2020
Laupp told CNN that “we as American citizens owe it to marginalized communities to know those parts of history.” Laupp, who’s a Libertarian, remains unsure if she’ll vote for Biden in 2020, but definitely won’t be voting for Trump. In 2016, she voted for Gary Johnson.
OMG y'all. I ran in to tell my son (14yo) how Gen Z (his gen) punked @realDonaldTrump w/ticket plan on TikTok and IG!
— Kerry Neville 🇺🇸🇮🇪 PhD (@mommamaybemad1) June 21, 2020
On Twitter, parents shared that they just found out their kids were involved in the fake reserved ticket schemes on Tik Tok while liberals congratulated the young generation’s prowess.
— Sarah Frier (@sarahfrier) June 21, 2020
So glad that America has finally harnessed its greatest natural resource: the viciousness of teens
— Jess Dweck (@TheDweck) June 21, 2020
Even congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez gave Tik Tok a shout out for their efforts. She tweeted to Trump’s campaign manager, “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.”
Trump’s Communications Director was Not Worried About People Reserving Tickets & Not Showing Up – Trump’s Campaign Manager Calls Tik Tok Hacking a ‘Bogus Claim’
— Jeremy Brunk (@GodBrunk) June 21, 2020
Erin Perrine, who works as the principal deputy communications director for the Trump campaign, told CNN, “Leftists do this all the time. They think if they sign up for tickets that will leave empty seats. Not the case at all. Always way more ticket requests than seats available at a rally. All they are doing is giving us access to their contact information.”
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’s campaign manager, Brad Parscale, couldn’t believe the insurance of ticket reservations. On June 14, he tweeted, “Just passed 800,000 tickets. Biggest data haul and rally signup of all time by 10x.”
Parscale also released a statement on the “bogus claim” that Tik Tok users hacked the campaign’s ticket system. He said:
Leftists and online trolls doing a victory lap, thinking they somehow impacted rally attendance, don’t know what they’re talking about or how our rallies work. Reporters who wrote gleefully about TikTok and K-Pop fans – without contacting the campaign for comment – behaved unprofessionally and were willing dupes to the charade. Registering for a rally means you’ve RSVPed with a cell phone number and we constantly weed out bogus numbers, as we did with tens of thousands at the Tulsa rally, in calculating our possible attendee pool.
These phony ticket requests never factor into our thinking. What makes this lame attempt at hacking our events even more foolish is the fact that every rally is general admission – entry is on a first-come-first-served basis and prior registration is not required. The fact is that a week’s worth of the fake news media warning people away from the rally because of COVID and protestors, coupled with recent images of American cities on fire, had a real impact on people bringing their families and children to the rally.
Trump’s Campaign Had to Take Down the Outdoor Stage Due to the Unexpectedly Small Crowd Size
Secret Service has moved crowd back from the overflow stage so it can be broken down. pic.twitter.com/iIxXfnpOPn
— Dave Weigel (@daveweigel) June 20, 2020
On June 15, Trump was not worried about coronavirus keeping his fans away from his campaign rally. He said, “I think we’re going to have a great time,” and mentioned how his speech would focus on the current status of the nation, “where we’re going, where we’ve come from.”
Inside the arena for President Trump’s rally in Tulsa. pic.twitter.com/ioCzsX29AB
— Jeff Mason (@jeffmason1) June 20, 2020
As for crowd size, “We expect to have — you know, it’s like a record-setting crowd. We’ve never had an empty seat,” he said.
Because the campaign rally was expected hundreds of thousands of people to show, Trump’s team assembled an additional stage outside to talk with the expected overflow of attendees. Before Trump started his speech inside the BOK arena, crew members were seen disassembling the outdoor stage.
— Courtney Subramanian (@cmsub) June 20, 2020
The Trump campaign announced that the outside speeches were canceled for tonight, and said it was in part due to protestors’ interference.