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Trump makes surprise appearance at Sneaker Con in Philadelphia

Republican presidential candidate and former President Donald Trump carries a pair of his new signature shoes before taking the stage at Sneaker Con at the Philadelphia Convention Center on February 17, 2024 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

John Cole, Pennsylvania Capital-Star
February 17, 2024

PHILADELPHIA— Last week, former President Donald Trump was the featured speaker at the National Rifle Association forum in Harrisburg. On Saturday, he made what appeared to be a last-minute visit to Philadelphia to speak at Sneaker Con.

“It’s a slightly different audience than I’m used to,” Trump said during brief remarks to a crowd that included cheers and some boos on Saturday afternoon. “But I love this audience.”

Before Trump took the stage at the Philadelphia Convention Center, people in the crowd waved signs reading “Sneakerheads Love Trump” with a URL to a site offering “President Trump’s official sneaker,” gold high-tops with American flag logos, available for pre-order at $399, with a limit of three pairs per customer, according to the site. A pair of the sneakers was displayed on the stage before Trump was introduced. 

Trump claimed that launching the shoe line was something he’s wanted to do for “a long time.” 

In addition to promoting the launch of his sneaker line, Trump’s speech appeared to be an attempt to court younger voters, who made up a significant majority of the audience. 

“What’s the most important thing,” Trump asked. “To go out and vote.” 

“We have got to get young people out to vote,” he said. 

President Joe Biden won 62% of voters aged 18-29 in Pennsylvania during the 2020 presidential election, while Trump won 35%. In 2016, Hillary Clinton won 52% of that same age demographic, while Trump won 43%. 

Chase Young, founder of Philadelphia-based luxury sneaker company Culture Kicks, spoke briefly before Trump took the stage about the impact that young people have in the shoe trading industry.

 A pair of Trump shoes was auctioned off for $9,000 at Sneaker Con on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2024 in Philadelphia (Capital-Star photo by John Cole)

“Our industry is valued at a staggering $100 billion,” Young said. “Where 60 million young entrepreneurs in the U.S. alone are actively engaged in trading and investing in sneakers.” 

“Over $10 million worth of sneakers will be changing hands today alone,” he added.

Young described Trump as someone who would have a “deep impact” on the sneaker industry by becoming the first president to launch their own sneaker.  

“He is someone you would not have thought or guessed would be joining the sneaker community, but today he is releasing his own line of sneakers, right here at Sneaker Con,” Young said. Trump was only on stage for a few minutes, holding up a gold shoe and inviting a woman in the audience wearing a Trump 2024 sweatshirt on stage with him.

Sneaker Con bills itself as “the world’s premier sneaker show, providing a huge space for vendors and attendees to buy, sell, and trade some of the most sought-after footwear in the game.” It might seem like an odd venue for Trump, but according to filings with the Federal Election Commission, the president of Sneaker Con, Alan Vinogradov, made donations to Trump’s 2024 campaign and a Trump-affiliated PAC, in relatively small amounts. 

Vinogradov donated $541 in August 2023, and $202 in April 2023 to Trump’s re-election campaign. He also donated to the Trump Save America PAC, giving $602 in August 2023 and $225 in April 2023..

Following Trump’s speech, a pair of size 11 Trump shoes that he autographed was auctioned off to a person in the audience for $9,000. Trump also signed a variety of MAGA gear, sneakers, and a Playboy magazine with his photo on the cover.

 Former President Donald Trump autographs a Playboy magazine at Sneaker Con on Saturday Feb. 17, 2024 in Philadelphia (Capital-Star photo by John Cole)

Trump has something of a troubled relationship with the City of Brotherly Love. During a presidential debate with Joe Biden in September 2020, Trump made the comment “Bad things happen in Philadelphia, bad things.” 

Trump’s visit to Philadelphia came one day after a judge in New York ordered him to pay $355 million for lying about his wealth in a civil fraud case. 

President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign released a statement after Trump’s brief appearance at the sneaker show Saturday.

“Donald Trump showing up to hawk bootleg Off-Whites is the closest he’ll get to any Air Force Ones ever again for the rest of his life,” Biden-Harris 2024 Communications Director Michael Tyler said.

Trump’s visit to Philadelphia is his second of the year to the Keystone State and the fourth since he announced he was seeking the 2024 GOP nomination for president. He visited Philadelphia in June to speak at a Moms for Liberty rally and visited the opposite end of the commonwealth in July for an address in Erie County.

Biden has made three trips to Pennsylvania in 2024, delivering his first campaign speech of the year in Montgomery County on Jan. 5, where he said he believed that democracy is on the ballot in November. On Jan. 12, Biden visited small businesses in the Allentown area, and was in Philadelphia on Jan. 15 for Martin Luther King Jr. Day to volunteer at a food bank

Pennsylvania played a key role in determining the two previous presidential elections and is shaping up to be center stage, once again, for the 2024 race. 

So far, 2024 polling shows Biden and Trump in a close hypothetical rematch for the Keystone State’s 19 electoral votes.

Capital-Star editor Kim Lyons contributed.

Pennsylvania Capital-Star is part of States Newsroom, a network of news bureaus supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. Pennsylvania Capital-Star maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Kim Lyons for questions: Follow Pennsylvania Capital-Star on Facebook and Twitter.

This article is republished from Pennsylvania Capital-Star under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.