U.S. President Donald Trump took a trip to the hurricane-ravaged state of Louisiana on Saturday, where he met with emergency responders and other officials. But as The Independent reports, after taking questions from reporters, he began handing out autographed photos of himself, telling recipients to sell them on eBay that night for $10,000.
Areas of Louisiana and Texas were slammed by the Category 4 storm known as Hurricane Laura this week. The president made an appearance in Lake Charles to survey the damage and to hear from local leaders about what the state required to recover and repair the damage.
After speaking, Trump, whose poll numbers among voters have improved in recent days, sat down and motioned to those surrounding him.
“Come here fellas, get over here. I want a little power,” he said.
While sitting in front of a Lake Charles Fire Department truck, he signed several photos, handing them one by one to people in attendance, who were told to put on masks before approaching the president.
“Here, sell this tonight on eBay. You’ll get 10,000,” he said.
“Sell it tonight on eBay. 10,000,” he repeated after signing another.
“If I put your name down, it loses a lot of value. So just sell it tonight on eBay,” he joked with a third person about not putting their name on the paper.
Twitter was quick to respond to the event, which critics called tone-deaf.
“It may take having worked for any previous president, Rep or Dem, to have the full visceral nausea about this display. (Parallel: a Pope telling crowd in St Peter’s how to maximize revenue from his blessings, a battlefield general with tips on scalping challenge coins.)” added James Fallows.
Others criticized those on the left for getting worked up over what was clearly a joke.
According to a public search on eBay, one of the highest-priced sales for an item featuring his signature is a Make America Great Again hat, which sold for $1,500. A Trump-branded dollar note sold for just over $100.
The hurricane hit Louisiana with winds up to 150 mph, though the expected 20-foot storm surge failed to materialize. Currently, 16 people died during the storm, half of those from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by the use of mobile generators indoors after the hurricane wiped out power in the area. Another four deaths were caused by trees falling onto homes.
It’s estimated that 8,000 homes were destroyed in the hurricane.
All told, it is expected that the price for repairing the damage will be up to $30 billion, far short of Hurricane Katrina, which required $160 billion after vast portions of New Orleans were submerged underwater.