A former porn star's revelation that President Trump hates and fears sharks has led to an surge in donations to shark-protection charities, and at least one giant-shark adoption.
In a 2011 interview that resurfaced last week, Stormy Daniels (real name: Melanie Clifford) claimed she had a yearlong affair with Trump in 2006. Among the details from their time together: Trump spent hours glued to shark-related shows on the Discovery Channel. "He is obsessed with sharks," she said. "Terrified of sharks."
"I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die," Daniels recalled Trump saying.
After Daniels' remarks reappeared last week, donations have streamed in to the nonprofits Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and Sea Shepherd Conservation Society. Most of them are from first-time donors. What's more: "We have been receiving donations in Trump's name since the story was published," Cynthia Wigren, CEO and co-founder of Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, told MarketWatch.
Someone has also adopted a 13-foot-long giant shark in Trump's name at Princeton's Shark Research Institute. "I think it was a jab at President Trump," executive director Marie Levine said.
Trump had previously added sharks to his galaxy of Twitter foes in 2013. "Sharks are last on my list," he tweeted, "other than perhaps the losers and haters of the World!"
Sharks are last on my list - other than perhaps the losers and haters of the World!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 4, 2013
Last year at a state dinner in Vietnam, Trump was criticized for eating shark fin soup. Shark finning is illegal in the U.S. and several other countries. Conservationists point out that in contrast to their apocalyptic publicity, sharks only kill five people worldwide each year, while more than 75 million are killed.
Paul Watson, founder of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society, said his group had received “quite a few” donations from people who mentioned Trump’s comments. Watson called the president's words “ignorant,” but added, “Anything that focuses attention on the plight of sharks worldwide is valuable, so I guess in that way the president did good service."