The year: 1997. The president: Not Donald Trump.
In an effort to incentivize wealthy New Yorkers to be more philanthropic with their money, Donald Trump was given the chance to be “Principal for a Day” at a public school in the Bronx.
According to a New York Times article, Trump was asked to give a speech for a group of fifth graders at P.S. 70. “Make the speech inspiring, he was asked, something to encourage a group of children whose universe is one of New York City’s most disadvantaged neighborhoods.”
Trump started off by asking, “First of all, who likes Nike sneakers?”
Naturally, every hand in the room shot up.
“If everybody puts their name on a piece of paper right now, I will pick 15 people and I’ll take you to the new Nike store that I just opened at Trump Tower,” Trump promised.
Apparently for Trump, this was a perfect intro for a speech on the American dream.
“Is there anyone here that doesn’t want to live in a big, beautiful mansion?” he asked. “You know what you have to do to live in a big beautiful mansion?”
“Be rich,” a voice answered.
“That’s right,” Trump said. “You have to work hard, get through school. You have to go out and get a great job, make a lot of money and you live the American dream. And you’re going to have fun doing it. It’s a lot of fun.”
Pretty strong words for a man who inherited a great deal of his wealth from his father.
The excitement in the room, and Trump’s bolstered ego, didn’t last long, however, once he started taking questions from the kids.
Cue 11-year-old Andres Rodriguez, whose father had recently passed away, and whose mother couldn’t work because of a disability.
Not falling for the B.S. Trump was espousing, Rodriguez asked, “Why did you offer us sneakers if you could give us scholarships?”
David MacEnulty, who ran the celebrated chess program at P.S. 70, told The 74 Million that Trump was stumped by the question.
“Trump finally said, ‘I don’t have an answer.’ That’s a direct quote,” MacEnulty said.
Trump’s solution? Give out more Nikes.
To add insult to injury, Trump gave a fake $ 1 million dollar bill to a bake sale that was raising money for the chess team to go to a tournament in Tennessee.
He eventually took it back and replaced it with $ 200, but compared to other wealthy “Principal for a Day” participators, it was chump change.
According to the Times, the chairman of a telephone company had just pledged $ 25,000 to another school in the Bronx the day before, while a high-powered attorney had pledged to raise $ 100,000 to renovate the library at a school in Manhattan.
Trump’s parting message for the kids was just as depressing:
“Money does not buy happiness, but it helps. Always remember that.”