What was touted as a massive campaign rally for Donald Trump with a million ticket requests for the event turned out to be a bit of a bust. Instead, the president’s gathering at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Okla., on Saturday (June 20) was attended by a little more than 6,200 people in a 19,200-seat stadium, according to Forbes.
All the empty sets in the upper level, the cancellation of president and vice president’s outdoor speeches to “overflow” attendees, and general low turnout may be in part thanks to fans of K-pop and TikTok users, according to multiple reports.
Per The New York Times, after the Trump campaign announced on TikTok that supporters can get free tickets to the rally by registering via their phones, K-pop fans shared the information and urged others to sign up and be no-shows.
In a TikTok video that has since been liked more than 707,000 times, user Mary Jo Laupp encouraged her followers to do just that. “All of those of us that want to see this 19,000 seat auditorium barely filled or completely empty go reserve tickets now and leave him standing alone there on the stage,” she said in the video.
Elijah Daniel, another protest participant, told the paper, “K-pop Twitter and Alt TikTok have a good alliance where they spread information amongst each other very quickly. They all know the algorithms and how they can boost videos to get where they want.”
Boasted a K-pop fan on Twitter after the low turnout, “we did it ya’ll.”
One parent on Twitter also shared that her son is friends with some of the Korean pop music fans who participated:
Laupp, 51, told NYT, “There are teenagers in this country who participated in this little no-show protest, who believe that they can have an impact in their country in the political system even though they’re not old enough to vote right now.”
Later on Saturday, Trump’s campaign manager Brad Parscale tweeted that “radical protesters” and “apoplectic media coverage” were to blame for the lower than expected number of attendees at the rally. (Live footage from the event that aired on CNN showed few protesters around the stadium, and those who were there were peaceful. And ahead of the event, medical experts repeatedly warned that having a major indoor event in the midst of a pandemic could cause COVID-19 cases to spike.)
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York responded to Parscale, tweeting, “Actually, you just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID.”
AOC then added: “KPop allies, we see and appreciate your contributions in the fight for justice too [smiley face emoji]”
Later on Sunday, Parscale denied that the ticket requests by K-pop fans and TikTok users had an impact on the rally attendance. “These phony ticket requests never factor into our thinking,” he said in a statement. Parscale added that attendance is on a first come, first served basis, and that “prior registration is not required.”
This would not be the first time that fans of K-pop have utilized social media to help magnify causes. Earlier in June, as the hashtag “White Lives Matter” began trending on Twitter in response to “Black Lives Matter” after the police killing of George Floyd, K-pop fans flooded the internet with photos, memes and videos of their favorite performers with the various anti-Black hashtags to suppress the #WhiteLivesMatter messages.
And after BTS announced their support for the Black Lives Matter movement as well as their $1 million donation to the cause, the group’s fans — known as BTS ARMY — utilized social media to encourage fans to also donate. Only one day after kicking off their own campaign, the BTS ARMY met their goal to match BTS’ $1 million in donations.
As reports spread on Sunday that K-pop fans and TikTok users may have played a part in leading to low attendance at Trump’s rally, the hashtag #tiktokteens became the No. 2 trending topic on Twitter, and the No. 1 topic in Google search trends. See what people are saying: