This Is How Much Trump's Campaign Made From His MAGA Hats

Almost as soon as they appeared, those bright red baseball caps with "Make America Great Again" emblazoned on the front became inextricably linked not just to Donald Trump's 2016 presidential campaign, but the entire Trumpist worldview, according to The Washington Post. Sold on the Trump campaign website and heavily advertised through social media, those so-called "MAGA" caps were soon the must-have accessory for all Trump supporters (via Donald J. Trump). The Trump campaign team even offered an update, reading instead "Keep America Great," for Trump's 2020 reelection campaign.

Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who was an intrinsic part of the 2016 Trump campaign organization, has now reportedly revealed just how much those caps earned the Trump team at the height of their popularity. Based on reporting by the New York Post, Kushner's upcoming memoir, "Breaking History: A White House Memoir," also provides his perspective on how and why those MAGA caps were so successful.

The Trump team sold nearly a million MAGA hats as of 2019

Brad Parscale (above) was Trump's digital media director for the 2016 campaign, giving him intimate insight into the inner workings of the MAGA cap phenomenon and just what effect the sales of those caps had on the Trump campaign's bottom line. In 2019, Parscale appeared on the CBS News program "Face the Nation" and said (via Newsweek) that at that point Trump's team had sold almost 1 million caps, adding that Trump's campaign sold not just headgear, but also t-shirts and flags, among other types of branded accessories.

At that point, Parscale estimated that with 1 million hats sold, at $45 per hat, that grossed the campaign some $45 million in revenue. "[T]his president," Parscale said in 2019, via Newsweek, "has changed the game in the way merchandise, rallies, the entire experience of being part of the political movement ... It's a way for them, somewhere in the middle of Nebraska, who is so far from the system but wants to be involved. This is a way for them to put $25, $40 dollars and say, 'Look, I want to make a difference,'" Parscale also noted.

The Trump campaign made $80,000 a day on MAGA hats, according to Jared Kushner

As the New York Post goes on to note, in his upcoming memoir "Breaking History," Kushner (above) reveals that the first-ever order for MAGA caps only numbered 100, but after Trump wore one at a campaign stop on the Mexico-American border, the popularity of the caps skyrocketed. Quickly, what began as $8,000 in daily MAGA cap sales online ballooned to $80,000 a day in revenue, according to Kushner's book.

Much of that success Kushner attributes to heavy social media advertising, in part to combat knock-offs. According to 2016 reporting from The Washington Post, those caps likely cost somewhere in the range of $2 or $3 each to manufacture. Exactly how much the Trump campaign profited off the MAGA hats is reportedly not revealed by Kushner, but at $80,000 in daily sales per day, it's safe to assume it was quite a lot. The same year that Trump won the White House, The New York Times reported the Trump team spent $322 million on his 2016 campaign for president.

Carrying on a tradition

The "Make America Great Again" slogan has actually been used in American politics for decades. Ronald Reagan made use of it in his 1980 campaign, according to NBC News. "This country needs a new administration with a renewed dedication to the dream of America, an administration that will give that dream new life, and make America great again," he said in a speech. His campaign also created wearable buttons that read "Let's Make America Great Again." Bill Clinton also made use of the phrase in speeches while running for president in the early 1990s.

In 2019, Donald Trump claimed he came up with the slogan on his own, according to The Hill. "A lot of people are saying that may have been the greatest theme ever in politics. Ronald Reagan had a small thing called 'Let's Make America Great.' That was good. I don't like it as much. And he sure as hell didn't use it as much." Elsewhere, Trump said he did not learn that Reagan had used the slogan until after he'd thought of it, which was in 2012, after Mitt Romney's loss to Barack Obama (via Business Insider). 

"Make America Great Again" is a powerful phrase politically, regardless of party, because it plays on nostalgia. Research shows human beings typically remember the past as being better than the present because negative memories fade from the mind more quickly (via The New York Times). Harkening back to (perceived) better times and promising change has always been an effective strategy. However, some have condemned the tactic as playing on nativist and racist sentiments, seeing such phrases as glorifying less racially diverse eras (via NPR).