Imagine being invited to the White House for dinner. You pack your best suit or dress and fly up to Washington, D.C. The day of the dinner, the president announces to reporters that he will be serving you fast food. He seems really excited about it. “I think we’re going to serve McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King with some pizza,” he says. “I really meant it. It’ll be interesting. I would think that’s their favorite food. So we’ll see what happens.”
He has to be kidding, right? He really means it? It’ll be interesting? We’ll see what happens? A few hours later you head to the White House, go through security and enter the State Dining Room. This is what you see:
— The White House (@WhiteHouse) January 15, 2019
Yes, President Trump served selections from McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King to the Clemson Tigers football team, who were in Washington on Monday to celebrate their national championship. The scene was surreal, with boxes of Quarter Pounders piled high on the White House’s silver serving ware. Sterling gravy boats were stuffed with dipping sauce containers. Fries had been removed from their original packaging and put into paper cups emblazoned with the presidential seal.
Trump was beaming. “I like it all,” the president said as aides lit an ornate candelabra. “It’s all good stuff. Great American food. It will be very interesting to see at the end of this evening how many are left.” He added that “the Republicans are really, really sticking together” and that “we need border security.”
Here’s a video I shot of President Trump showing off his 300 hamburgers. pic.twitter.com/P06S6I5w07
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) January 14, 2019
He was also lying. In the video, Trump notes that the White House brought in 300 hamburgers for the event. The president has made common practice of inflating numbers for his own benefit — whether it be the size of his inauguration crowd, or the trade deficit. He couldn’t help himself on Monday, either. After the dinner wrapped, Trump addressed the high-performance athletes he had just served sodium-rich sandwiches. The number of hamburgers tripled. “Do we give you some little quick salads that the first lady will make, along with the second lady — they’ll make some salads. I said you guys aren’t into salads,” Trump said. “Or do I go out and send out for about 1,000 hamburgers? Big Macs. So we actually did. We bought 1,000. Burger King. All American companies. Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonald’s.”
Clemson lists 119 players on its 2018-2019 football roster, along with 11 coaches. If the White House ordered 1,000 hamburgers, it would be enough for each player or coach to eat seven burgers, and that’s assuming all 130 of them made the trip to Washington. Pizza, chicken nuggets, salad and fries were also being served. “We have everything that I like, that you like,” Trump said. “I know that no matter what we did there’s nothing you could have that’s better than that.”
On Tuesday morning, the number grew from 1,000 hamburgers to “over 1,000 hamberders,” which Trump claimed he paid for himself. He said it was all gone within an hour, which, again, means that each player would have had to have eaten over seven hamburgers, not to mention the other offerings.
Great being with the National Champion Clemson Tigers last night at the White House. Because of the Shutdown I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders etc. Within one hour, it was all gone. Great guys and big eaters!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) January 15, 2019
This is all very stupid, of course, but it’s a good example of how casually Trump lies. He does not strategically pick and choose where he is going to exaggerate the truth or which numbers he’s going to inflate. He just does it. It’s comes as naturally to the president as breathing. Or as scarfing down a Big Mac.
It’s also unlikely that the Clemson football team was as giddy about the fast food feast as the president would have liked to believe. Though the team is comprised mostly of teenagers, they’re also high-performance athletes. The football program has a director of nutrition and a performance chef on staff, and they’re probably not feeding the players off the dollar menu. One video of the dinner even features an unnamed Clemson player in line for food saying, “I thought it was a joke.”
But the president wasn’t joking. You are, in fact, in the State Dining Room, standing under a 150-year-old portrait of Abraham Lincoln as you decide whether to load a Filet-O-Fish or a Whopper onto the White House’s fine china. Donald Trump is the president. He said he was going to serve you fast food and he did. Promises made, promises kept.