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(Photo: Taylor Hill/WireImage)
Mike Tyson is an African-American male, a high school dropout, and a convert to Islam. TV judge Jeanine Pirro is a white woman, a law school grad, and an avowed Catholic. While Donald Trump’s celebrity boosters boast a range of experiences, a review of the dozens of bold-faced names who have made a public show of their support for the Republican presidential candidate reveal there are predominant traits. Like having been a reality TV star with some connection to Trump, wrestling and/or the mixed martial arts.
In the spirit of a recent New York Times survey that sought to predict Trump’s conventional-wisdom-defying support via demographic and economic stats, we dug into the more than 40 TV, film, music, and sports stars whose names have been linked to Trump since the real estate mogul launched his campaign last year.
Our question: Who best personifies the Trump supporter in the world of celebrity? The answer: Former Monster Garage star Jesse James.
But first, our disclosure that we tidied up of our pool of candidates, and ruled out more than a dozen stars frequently linked to Trump 2016 on account of there just wasn’t enough of a social media or public comment trail. This means no Lou Ferrigno, no Hulk Hogan, and no Terrell Owens, all of whom made offhand comments to TMZ’s paparazzi last summer, but who haven’t been heard from in any significant way since. This means no Jesse Ventura, who, like Hogan, appeared to throw his hat in the ring to be Trump’s vice president, but who more recently tweeted that he supports Trump and Democrat Bernie Sanders only as agents of chaos to their respective parties. This means no Latrell Sprewell, the former NBA star, who tweeted his congratulations to Trump after the Nevada primary, but also retweeted a rapper who said he wished President Barack Obama could serve another four years. This means no Kirstie Alley, who like Sprewell, has tweeted congrats to Trump, but also to Sanders and Hillary Clinton. This means no Kanye West, whose reputed support has been found only in the gossip media.
And this means no Tom Brady, who made headlines by saying he “supports all [his] friends,” but stopped short of saying he supports “good friend” Trump for president.
That left us with 29 stars — an Oscar winner (Jon Voight), an Oscar nominee (Gary Busey), a county music legend (Loretta Lynn), a boxing champ (Tyson), a vice presidential nominee (Sarah Palin), and a pair of World Series heroes (Paul O'Neill and Johnny Damon) among them.
* The prototypical celebrity Trump supporter is a U.S.-born white male with a high school diploma, and a résumé that boasts at least one reality TV show credit, probably Trump’s The Apprentice. So, as we said before: Jesse James.
Jesse James: “Thanks for the shirts @realdonaldtrump I felt proud getting it dirty today. You can’t Make America Great Again without hard work!” (Photo: Instagram)
* The average age of the celebrity Trump backer is about 55.
* At 84, Loretta Lynn is the oldest celebrity Trump-backer included in this survey; Aaron Carter, age 28, is the youngest.
* Being white, being male, and being a reality TV alum are tied as the No. 1 determining factor for a Trump star. Fully 20 of the 29 belonged to at least one of those categories. Supporters such as Scott Baio and former basketball coach and broadcaster Bobby Knight fit into all three.
* Of the reality stars, nearly half were “fired” by Trump on The Apprentice: Jesse James, Johnny Damon, Stephen Baldwin, Gary Busey, Dennis Rodman, Wayne Newton, Herschel Walker, Tito Ortiz, Omarosa, and Teresa Giudice.
Trump has Dennis Rodman’s vote. (Photo: Flickr)
* Wrestling and MMA are an even bigger part of the celebrity Trump supporter’s world as The Apprentice: Tyson, Rodman, and John Rocker have all done wrestling stints; retired football star Walker gave MMA a shot; Baldwin was a high school wrestler; Willie Robertson wrestled on Duck Dynasty; Damon has hosted WWE Raw; Ortiz is an MMA star with pro wrestling credits; Omarosa has been romantically linked to WWE standout Titus O'Neil; Baio cameoed on Impact Wrestling; Dana White is president of the Ultimate Fighting Championship; and Voight co-stars in the upcoming high school wrestling drama, American Wrestler: The Wizard. Knight, who was offered, but did not accept, a coaching gig with Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling, could have made this list even longer.
Duck Dynasty’s Willie Robertson is on the Trump train. (Photo: AP Photo/J Pat Carter)
* Reality TV and wrestling/MMA are larger factors in predicting a Trump celebrity supporter than geography, though a plurality hail equally from the East Coast and from the South — if, that is, you count Tila Tequila, who was raised in Texas, but who was born in Singapore. If you don’t count Tequila, then the East is the No. 1 region for future Trump stars.
* Tequila is one of two confirmed celebrity Trump supporters who is an immigrant. Trump’s first ex-wife, Ivana Trump, is the other.
* Tequila is also one of two Trump supporters to have been publicly chastised for posing in Nazi regalia. Jesse James is the other.
* Trump’s celebrity supporters would seem to better educated than the candidate’s general base as surveyed by the Times: Only five of the 29 did not have at least a high school diploma. Ten are college graduates.
* A history of support for segregationist George Wallace is another place where the worlds of Trump’s rank-and-file and celebrity supporters diverge: The Times found a strong link between counties that went for Wallace in the 1960s and 1970s and counties that are going for Trump today; the only celebrity Trump backer with any link to Wallace is Lynn, who performed at a 1962 Wallace rally. (She said she didn’t know “who was running for what or what they were running from.”)
* Celebrity Trump supporters are nearly as likely to have no stated or pronounced faith as they are to be religious. Of the backers who have gone on the record about their religion, 14 are Christians; one, Tyson, is Muslim. White is an atheist.
* Ortiz, whose father is of Mexican descent, is the lone Hispanic among the surveyed.