False Facts About Donald Trump You Always Thought Were True

Regardless of how you feel about Donald J. Trump, it's undeniable that he's been a fascinating public figure for years. Though he'd been toying with the idea of running for president for decades, it was his outspoken nature, flamboyant wealth, and media presence that made him a household name. Before winning America's highest political office, Trump was perhaps best known for his casinos and his popular reality show, The Apprentice. He's also a man who's never been afraid to boast his achievements and slam his detractors. Inflated by his own claims, as well as the tabloid aura that tends to surround wealthy public figures, Trump's persona grew more and more outlandish over time. 

While much about Trump's businesses and personal life remains mired in controversy, some truth about the real estate tycoon-turned 45th President of the United States has been revealed. Here are some false facts about Trump you always thought were true.

Donald Trump's a self-made man

The truth about Donald Trump's net worth is a topic of much debate. When he announced his presidential run, he estimated his worth at around $10 billion. As of September 2016, Forbes put that figure at $3.7 billion, while The Washington Post reported $150 million to $250 million after "subtracting debts and other liabilities." So, it's a subject as mysterious as The Donald's hair, but we'll get to more on that later.

What we can deduce with a level of relative certainty is how Trump started to accumulate however much wealth he has. While campaigning for the Republican nomination, Trump attended a town hall where one attendee asked him how he got his start. According to CNN, Trump responded, "It has not been easy for me, it has not been easy for me. And you know I started off in Brooklyn, my father gave me a small loan of a million dollars." Setting aside his somewhat humorous characterization of a $1 million loan as "small," the actual amount he borrowed over time from his father was around $14 million, which, adjusted for inflation, would be around $31 million today, according to The Wall Street Journal (via Politico). 

Whether Trump turned that $14 million into $150 million or $10 billion is irrelevant, because either way, he made a ton of money. However, to posture himself as a struggling entrepreneur is as disingenuous as if Charlie Sheen were to say that breaking into the acting biz was hard.

He's a bad businessman who went bankrupt

This one gets a little tricky, because, if you're like us, trying to understand bankruptcy law is a bit like trying to find the center of the maze in Westworld. The fact of the matter is that out of the 515 businesses that Donald Trump is involved with, only three of his companies have ever declared bankruptcy, one of which, Trump Entertainment Resorts, did so twice in five years. Trump himself has never declared personal bankruptcy, and in an interview with ABC News, he maintained that what happened to his companies that did file for Chapter 11 was merely "a fantastic deal" in which he "used the laws of this country to pare debt."

Okay, fair enough. After all, lots of corporations use bankruptcy laws as a way to renegotiate debt and restructure ownership, but what about the infamous moment during his first debate with Hillary Clinton, in which he admitted that due to a $916 million net operating loss, he was able to not pay federal taxes for years? According to The New York Times, this loss was reported on Trump's 1995 federal tax return and was a direct result of "the financial wreckage he left behind in the early 1990s through mismanagement of three Atlantic City casinos, his ill-fated foray into the airline business and his ill-timed purchase of The Plaza Hotel in Manhattan." Trump famously referred to the maneuver as "smart," and we kind of have to agree that it was. Not only did personally losing almost a billion dollars not leave him in financial ruin, but he found a tax loophole that would help him recoup some of those losses (for the next 18 years, possibly) and went on to become a television star and president of the United States.

Donald Trump kicked a crying baby out of a rally

We try to steer clear of politics around here, so in the spirit of remaining neutral, let's just say that during the 2016 presidential race there was a ton of mudslinging between both Trump and Clinton. Out of that mudslinging, memes spread across social media like the plague. One of the biggest of those memes, dubbed "babygate," alleged Trump threw a crying baby out of one of his rallies. Maybe because this would be an easy act to vilify, or perhaps because folks were reminded of Will Ferrell's infamous baby-punching scene from The Campaign, Trump's ejected baby story quickly spread through social media and the mainstream media.

The New York Post (via Snopes) ran the headline "Trump loves crying baby, then kicks the tot out of his rally," while NPR and Politico each had slight variations on the Republican candidate's own words: "Trump: 'Get That Baby Out Of Here,'" and "Trump at rally: 'Get the baby out of here,'" respectively. None of these outlets got the whole story.

According to Toronto Star reporter, Daniel Dale (via Snopes), Trump actually seemed to be goofing around with the baby's mother, making his remarks as she voluntarily got up and was leaving with her crying child. "One other salient fact is missing from all the pieces on babygate," Dale said. "Mom and baby, very much not kicked out, came back to their seat a bit later." The lesson here? Just because the internet repeats it a million times doesn't make it true, no matter what your annoying uncle at Thanksgiving says.

He self-funded his campaign

Here's another one about the election, but don't worry, we're not trying to start an awkward Facebook thread that goes on and on until someone's not invited to family functions anymore. This "false fact" is pretty easy to debunk, so it shouldn't make too many waves.

While he was still campaigning for the Republican nomination, Donald Trump said at one of the debates, "I don't have to give you a website because I'm self-funding my campaign. I'm putting up my own money," but according to The Washington Post, as of January 2016, not only was most of Trump's campaign donor-funded, but his website actually did have "a prominent 'donate' button on its homepage." According to campaign finance watchdog site, Open Secrets, Trump contributed more than $56 million dollars to his own campaign, which ultimately raised more than $306 million during the course of the election process.

We could point out that campaign finance is a thorny issue with many complicated facets, and that there isn't a reasonable expectation that a candidate wouldn't take donations, because that's a way for the public to be involved in the political process, or we could all just agree that to a use of a cut-and-dry term like "self-funded" only works like this in the arena of politics. After all, could any of us announce that we're self-funding our Chipotle burrito, then proceed to pay cash for 15 percent of it and ask the rest of the people in line to chip in for the rest? Not likely.

Donald Trump has golden toilets

The gold toilet claim is another one that resurfaced during the election in the form of a meme that attempted to portray how out of touch with the working class Trump really is. The photo used for the meme turned out to be a real golden toilet, but it belonged to Hong Kong jeweller Lam Sai-wing, according to Snopes.

The myth about the world's most luxurious crapper goes back years. In 2011, Cracked ran an article titled "10 Stories About Donald Trump You Won't Believe Are True," in which they referred to Trump's ill-fated foray into the air travel business with his purchase of Eastern Air Shuttle. According to Cracked, Trump made many upgrades to his fleet of jets, including "gold-plated toilet fittings." Cracked cited this Time article for the information, but that piece used the language "gold-colored bathroom fixtures." That could mean the material was anything from brass to spray-painted wood, yet Cracked, and many other outlets ran with the misleading, but undeniably more salacious claim that Trump had people taking gilded number two's in the sky.

It is true, however, that during the Mirror's tour of Trump's personal jet, a 24-carat, gold-plated sink can be seen in the master bathroom, but there is no mention of the toilet. The host of the tour does make it a point to show off many of the other other gold-plated features of the impressive jet, including the seat belt buckles. Should you happen to be an unfortunate passenger during a crash in this thing, at least your death would be part of the most fantastic, luxurious air disaster of all time.

Donald Trump's hair is fake

Donald Trump's hair is his defining physical characteristic. There is no other public figure whose locks have fascinated so many people, except for maybe record producer Phil Spector, but that guy's a convicted murderer, so maybe that's not a great comparison. Anyway, there is tons of speculation about whether Trump has hair plugs, a toupe, some kind of insane transplant that only billionaires can afford, or even just a simple chinchilla pelt stapled to his skull. Gawker even did a lengthy and impressively in-depth examination that strongly suggested Trump had and/or was continuing to receive exclusive treatments from Dr. Edward Ivari using a "less-invasive, nonsurgical method" called "microcylinder intervention." However, that article really couldn't prove anything, and if you look at Vanity Fair's "Illustrated History of Donald Trump's Hair," it's clear he's been swirling and combing forward his hair in the same strange way since the '80s.

But still, it could have been fake way back then, right? According to Trump's former hairdresser, Amy Lasch, the answer is definitively no — that mind-bending mop on Trump's dome is 100 percent authentic. In an interview with the Mirror, Lasch said, "He does it himself. It is real and it is his hair — he doesn't have plugs." We're talking about a woman who was allowed up close, personal access to those wispy strands of wonder, and she's confirming their authenticity, and she's by no means a Trump loyalist. Lasch also referred to the president-elect as "flirty," "inappropriate," and "chauvinistic," so if she had an axe to grind, blowing the lid off of Trump's...lid would have been a power move for the ages.

He was a draft dodger

Trump's alleged draft dodging has been the subject of many think pieces, including this blog from a military wife, and this Daily Beast article, which claims that Paddy McGahn, Trump's lawyer and alleged "fixer" during his Atlantic City days, used to frequently refer to him as a "draft-dodging bastard." The reality is that Trump did, in fact, register with the Selective Service before receiving four 2-S (college) deferments, according to Snopes. College deferments were standard practice at the time, so where did the controversy and assertion that he evaded military service come from?

According to The New York Times, in 1968, after Trump's fourth and final deferment, he was once again eligible for the draft. At this time, the United States was sending troops to Southeast Asia in the ramp-up to the Vietnam War. Trump eventually received his "lottery number," like anyone else eligible for the draft, but it didn't matter, because he'd also secured a "1-Y medical deferment" for bone spurs in both of his heels. When asked about his condition through the years, Trump had what some view as a muddled history of responses. That, combined with his arguably clumsy gaffes during the campaign in relation to Sen. John McCain's military service, as well as his remarks about the Gold Star Khan family, led to heightened scrutiny of Trump's own service record. However, as was the case with his use of bankruptcy law, Trump's avoidance of military service falls into the category of squirrely, but seemingly on the up and up.

Donald Trump's a branding genius

One of the oft-quoted praises of Trump is that he's a branding genius, which may seem true, considering his filing to the Federal Election Commission reported that 268 companies "bear his name," according to The Washington Post. A closer look reveals that many of the businesses and buildings adorned with his famous golden Trump logo are merely licensing deals. NPR found that in some cases, the Trump name is only left behind as a contract stipulation as part of the sale of a building, which means his name sits on properties he no longer owns. Doesn't that make it seem like a form of corporate graffiti at that point?

Then there are his actual brands that represent businesses he does or did own, many of which have not seen success. Trump Steaks have been a late night talk show punchline for years. The Trump Shuttle, aka Trump Airlines, was a disaster. He launched Trump Mortgage a year and a half before the housing market crashed. All three Atlantic City Casinos that bore his name have closed. And his so-called Trump University had to pay a $25 million settlement over fraud allegations in a high-profile class action suit. While it's remarkable Trump still attempts to trade on his name as the epitome of luxury and success in the face of so many spectacular failures, we feel it can't be said that it is particularly "genius" to slap one's name onto a bunch of duds, especially the casinos. What a blow to the moniker to be associated with the bumbling of a can't-lose kind of business like gambling. We imagine it's kind of like how the former CEO of a certain defunct video rental chain is probably pretty relieved that his name isn't John Blockbuster.

He's been a conservative Republican forever

Donald Trump won the Republican Party the White House for the first time in nearly a decade with his victory in the 2016 presidential election. He was something of a dark horse candidate from the start — unlike primary rivals Ted Cruz (a senator) and Jeb Bush (a governor), Trump boasted no prior governing experience. As a proud political outsider, The Donald was thus not part of the mainstream GOP establishment. In fact, he hadn't even been a registered Republican for all that long. 

According to PolitiFact, Trump registered as a Republican in 1987, but two years later switched his affiliation to independent, and for the next 20 years, he donated heavily to Democratic candidates. In 2000, Trump ran for president for the first time, winning the California primary ... for the Reform Party. The following year, Trump filed the paperwork to make himself a Democrat. In mid-2009, Trump switched for the last time, back to the Republican Party. Phew!

Donald Trump wrote The Art of the Deal

Before he was the President of the United States and the host of The Apprentice, Donald Trump was a New York real estate magnate. And since that city is the media capital of the Western world, his professional and personal activities were dutifully reported, making The Donald into a nationally known figure, as well as one of the most famous businessmen in 1980s America.

In 1987, Trump capitalized on that image and status by publishing The Art of the Deal, a mixture of a business and negotiation how-to manual and professional manifesto. The book was wildly successful, spending 13 weeks at No. 1 on The New York Times' bestseller list, and nearly a year on the chart in total (via The New Yorker). The Art of the Deal certainly seems like a very Trumpian image-building, money-making opportunity, and it was — it just wasn't Trump's idea.

In 1984, GQ published an issue featuring a cover story on Trump, and Si Newhouse, head of the company that owned GQ's publisher, noticed that newsstand sales were extremely robust. Newhouse's conglomerate also owned book publisher Random House, and he reached out to Trump about writing a full-length tome. After showing the future president a mock-up of the book (a flattering picture of Trump, and his name in gold letters), freelance writer Tony Schwartz was hired to shadow Trump and ghostwrite The Art of the Deal.

The Apprentice was Donald Trump's idea

Donald Trump didn't need a political background to acquaint himself with the national voting populace: he'd already made himself a familiar face by starring on more than a dozen seasons of the NBC reality series The Apprentice. Debuting in early 2004 — right when reality television was at its most culturally powerful through real people-starring competitive sensations like American Idol, Big Brother, Survivor, and Joe Millionaire – The Apprentice pitted driven professionals against one other, vying for the chance to work for tycoon Trump in his vast corporate organization. This show, in which people had to perform business-building tasks each episode, became a top 10 hit for NBC (people loved Trump's catchphrase: "You're fired!"), and Trump has claimed he personally earned $214 million over the length of the show.

The whole endeavor came to Trump like a gift-wrapped package. Survivor executive producer Mark Burnett pitched the show to Trump, who initially turned down the idea. According to The Washington Post, he didn't want to be associated with the world of reality television, telling friends that such shows were made "for the bottom-feeders of society." But Burnett eventually convinced Trump that the show could help both promote and brand the "Trump" name (by connoting the man with very idea of success itself, and showcasing Trump properties). The real estate developer signed on, and the rest, as they say, is history.