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Trump’s Most ‘Trump’ Insta-Moments

Trump’s Instagram is a master class in image management. We excavated his feed for the highlights

Donald Trump has had designs on the presidency for decades, but it’s fair to wager that not even he could have foreseen himself as the presumptive Republican nominee just a few years back. All you need to do is look at his Instagram, where he vlogged a short-lived campaign to host the Oscars last year and posted a pic with golf buddy Bill Clinton in 2014.

The fact that neither has been scrubbed from @realdonaldtrump since his presidential bid broke into the mainstream says something about both his campaign and his brand-building as a combative billionaire reality TV star — and how very difficult it is to disentangle the two.

Trump knows there’s no better platform for controlling the consumption of his image than on Instagram, where an uncompromised version of himself resonates as refreshingly unfiltered, translating to hearts and follows. In the political realm, only @barackobama’s 7.4 million followers best @realdonaldtrump’s 1.7 million. (In the world of celebrities, Trump’s Instagram constituency is exactly on par with the Canadian singer @carlyraejepsen’s). Still, Trump’s Instagram retains the showboating and bullying that has always defined it. The unifying feature is Trump the person and his interests as a mid-60s wealthy person.

The following are highlights from the 747 pictures he’s shared with the world so far.

April 9, 2013

Hello, world! Trump’s first post introduces his two most prevailing Insta-passions: the Trump children and the Trump golf courses. (Also: rich men with questionable relationships with women.)

April 9, 2013

A surreal harbinger, @realdonaldtrump’s second post is taken with America’s then-most famous personality-turned-politician Arnold Schwarzenegger, who has taken over hosting duties for Celebrity Apprentice.

April 10, 2013

A shot with Christian Bale, who appeared as Batman in The Dark Knight, which was apparently filmed at Trump Towers. But you bet Trump recognizes Bale from his role in American Psycho. In fact, just this year American Psycho author Bret Easton Ellis told the New York Post, “I think Trump would be a father figure for [Bateman]. He would see a kindred spirit in the Donald Trump of today: Somebody who calls out bullshit when he sees it.”

April 10, 2013

More self-promotional family-golf love.

April 10, 2013

The inaugural Melania pic — wearing a bright blue dress unlikely to make an appearance on the Republican’s future campaign trail.

April 15, 2013

An unannounced #tbt with his sons and oft-rumored running mate Hulk Hogan.

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Don and Eric with Hulk Hogan- Great shot!

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

April 18, 2013

A proper #tbt of @realdonaldtrump in period attire with baby Donald Trump Jr.

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#TBT With Donald Trump Jr. almost 35 years ago.

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

April 18, 2013

Back at @doralresort, the Trump-owned Miami-based golf resort, @ivankatrump posing on a Caterpillar backhoe.

June 10, 2013

Coccooned, in golf threads, by a dozen men with automatic rifles, @realdonaldtrump calls this backwoods New Jersey SWAT team “fantastic people!” Zeal for militaristic play is a theme.

June 11, 2013

The media flurry at this Trump golf course in Scotland looks like a petting zoo compared to 2016 press corps surrounding @realdonaldtrump.

August 15, 2013

The caption speaks for itself.

August 15, 2013

Another #tbt offering a glimpse of a young @realdonaldtrump, hinting, as he long has, at presidential ambitions in the claim that he “can be very military.”

July 18, 2013

Non-sequitur shout out to Nelson Mandela on his birthday!

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Happy Birthday Nelson Mandela!

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

November 19, 2013

Flummoxingly, @realdonaldtrump’s first video is an indictment of Trayvon Martin’s killer George Zimmerman.

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I got George Zimmerman right- watch-

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

December 5, 2013

Deja vu shout out to Nelson Mandela on his death!

December 12, 2013

Golfing with The Plastics: Rudy Giuliani, Mike Bloomberg, and Bill Clinton (plus Joe Torre and Billy Crystal).

May 19, 2014

After a sparse start to 2014, @realdonaldtrump is hitting the greens with @ivankatrump and a Dubai businessman he developed a property with—before all his anti-Muslim comments began.

Aug 7, 2014

Tennis makes a cameo as another sport appreciated by @realdonaldtrump.

Aug 13, 2014

Two series of likely intern-concocted posts dominate @realdonaldtrump’s 2014 output. One is the truism espousing #TrumpAdvice…

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#TrumpAdvice

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Oct 9, 2014

…The other is #TrumpVlog, sounding off on all the hot topics of the day. (Unclear whether this is a question appropriate for a crowdsourced answer, however.)

Jan 22, 2015

By the start of 2015, design is still pretty ad-hoc in the @realdonaldtrump’s social media department.

Feb 12, 2015

Meanwhile, @realdonaldtrump is still fondly recalling mingling with other celebrities.

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#TBT With @britneyspears

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Feb 19, 2015

More celebrities.

Feb 23, 2015

Just a matter of months before announcing his candidacy, @realdonaldtrump was “running” to be the 2016 host of the Oscars in a series of #TrumpVlogs.

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Trump to host #Oscars? #TrumpVlog

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Apr 1, 2015

That’s not to say that #TrumpVlog wasn’t also keeping a foot in the door in the political realm.

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#TrumpVlog Be careful with Iran.

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Apr 16, 2015

Yet another photo (#tbt, mind you) with an adulated capitalist monster from fiction.

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#TBT Trump and Gekko

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Jun 1, 2015

With a press clipping from Playboy peeking out from behind his shoulder, @realdonaldtrump cued the drumroll for his June 16th campaign announcement to an understandably underestimating public.

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June 16th-

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Jun 15, 2015

On the eve of his campaign announcement, @realdonaldtrump puts Jeb Bush in his crosshairs.

Jun 16, 2015

Version 1.0 of the campaign stage design is unveiled on the morning of the big announcement.

Jun 16, 2015

A brand new hashtag, one that would expand way further than the @realdonaldtrump Instagram community.

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#MakeAmericaGreatAgain

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Jun 23, 2015

Months away from widely accepted viability, @realdonaldtrump begins sharing headlines on his Instagram that indicate he actually has a chance.

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#MakeAmericaGreatAgain

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Jun 29, 2015

@realdonaldtrump disavows NBC in the wake of his remarks on immigration: “NBC is weak, and like everybody else trying to be politically correct — that is why our country is in serious trouble.”

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Statement on Relationship with NBC-

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Jul 11, 2015

In roughly a month, rallies have grown in attendance—from just a few hundred to, according to this caption, 15,000 people.

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This is what 15,000 people looks like.

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Jul 24, 2015

In what is probably the most aesthetically perfect post published by @realdonaldtrump, this picture has it all, including the plane, the SUV, the muscle, the hat and the pose.

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Arriving to check out the border.

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Aug 7, 2015

With #MakeAmericaGreatAgain in full effect, the Trump clan looks indistinguishable from a morning news team as they wait for the infamous Megyn Kelly GOP Debate to begin.

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#MakeAmericaGreatAgain #GOPdebate

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Aug 20, 2015

@realdonaldtrump is thrilled: Finally, proof the mainstream media has full on bought in.

Sep 3, 2015

There is something disconcertingly homespun about @realdonaldtrump’s pledge not to run as an independent. Did he use a Sharpie to sign?

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The Pledge #MakeAmericaGreatAgain

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Sep 15, 2015

Still, to @realdonaldtrump’s seeming surprise, the crowds continue to grow…

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Unbelievable crowd in Dallas!

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Oct 25, 2015

…And grow. Notice @realdonaldtrump already starting claims that the media isn’t fairly covering his campaign: “I may as well show you because the media won’t.”

Dec 18, 2015

…And grow…

Dec 20, 2015

But no amount of wealth or spending can make @realdonaldtrump’s feed feel refined. It retains a discombobulated, computer skills-era design sense.

Dec 24, 2015

And @realdonaldtrump never abandons his love for situating himself in the cosmos of not just capitalist Americana, but of popular entertainment—even as he aspires for his campaign to be taken more seriously.

Dec 27, 2015

@realdonaldtrump reminding you of his aggregate “social media outreach,” a number which means virtually nothing.

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THANK YOU!! #twitter #facebook #instagram

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Jan 5, 2016

Fresh into 2016, the #TrumpTrain rolls into the station with disingenuous overtures to non-white Americans. Not to mention design taken straight from the pages of a stock images site.

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#TrumpTrain

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Jan 6, 2016

The next day the #TrumpTrain doubles down on the diversity of his supporters.

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#TrumpTrain

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Jan 8, 2016

And yet, other members of the #TrumpTrain have a more uniform appearance.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BASGvDzmhXW/

Feb 25, 2016

A tower of computer paper casts shade on Mitt Romney and those that would resist @realdonaltrump.

Mar 17, 2016

But more and more, @realdonaldtrump’s feed is increasingly weaponized against the competition…

Apr 11, 2016

…while @realdonaldtrump merrily documents the dissolution of the Republican party.

May 5, 2016

@realdonaldtrump’s excitement about a Cinco De Mayo taco bowl is interesting to many, considering his comments about Mexicans and immigration. Many, many people parody his “I love Hispanics!” Instagram, accidentally spawning a meme he perhaps didn’t quite mean to create.

May 11, 2016

@realdonaldtrump re-grams a fan’s interpretation of the #TrumpTrain, proving that not even the most disintegrated image macro is not too obscure for the feed.

May 17, 2016

*thinking man emoji*

May 26, 2016

But no matter the fanfare, @realdonaldtrump celebrates his presumed nomination by eating McDonalds alone on his private jet. He is rich and successful; he is just like you.

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Celebrating 1237! #Trump2016

A post shared by President Donald J. Trump (@realdonaldtrump) on

Kevin McGarry is an L.A.-based arts writer. His work has appeared in T Magazine, Art in America, Artforum and Interview.