Former President Donald Trump is struggling to sell tickets to his upcoming interview tour with conservative pundit Bill O'Reilly, according to a Politico report that prompted the former Fox News host to threaten a lawsuit threat.
Trump and O'Reilly last month announced that they would join forces for something called "The History Tour," which will feature interviews that "provide a never-before-heard inside view of his administration — which will be historical in and of itself." Trump vowed that the interviews would be "hard-hitting sessions" but also "fun, fun, fun, for everyone who attends."
Tickets for the tour, which will start with four cities in Florida and Texas, have been on sale for a month and range from $100 to $300, though the pair is also selling a "VIP Meet & Greet Package" that includes a 45-minute reception before the show and backstage photos with Trump and O'Reilly. That will cost you $8,500.
But despite both men repeatedly promoting the tour, ticket sales have reportedly been struggling.
"There's still a lot of tickets open," a box office employee at Orlando's Amway Center told Politico, noting that a Bad Bunny concert that won't actually happen until next spring had sold out in two days.
A "large number of seats" remain available for the pair's event at the American Airlines Center in Dallas, Politico also reported, while 60% to 65% of seats remain unsold for the tour stop at the Toyota Center in Houston.
It's unclear how many tickets are still available for the duo's first appearance, scheduled for Dec. 11 at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. A box office employee told the outlet that they had expected sales would be "definitely higher" by now.
"It hasn't been [selling] like crazy," the employee said, adding that events for comedians Katt Williams and Joe Rogan sold "significantly" better.
This is a somewhat unusual problem for a former president given how popular other events led by former residents of the White House have been in recent years. Former first lady Michelle Obama's 2018 "Becoming" book tour sold out within two days, including an event in Chicago that sold out within minutes, as Politico noted. A 2018 tour by former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton sold out within two weeks, though their venues were smaller.
Trump and O'Reilly disputed the Politico report. A Trump aide told the outlet that he has not "promoted the events very much," and claimed that "many tickets" haven't been made available.
"The History Tour has already sold over $5 million of tickets, and the excitement and enthusiasm is unlike anything we've seen before," Trump spokesperson Liz Harrington told Politico. "Come December, the sold out shows will be a memorable night for all."
O'Reilly called the report "false" and "totally ridiculous," declaring that ticket sales have already brought in $7 million, a figure even higher than the Trump camp claimed.
"We haven't spent a nickel on marketing, nothing," he said. "All those 7 million for four shows were done on the announcement. Marketing will start in about a week. Nobody has sold tickets this fast at this price, and VIPs are sold out at 3 of the 4 venues."
O'Reilly told Politico that the Sunrise event is nearly 75% sold out and said that not all the seats in Houston will be available. He said it was "bullshit" that Orlando sales have been sluggish, while admitting he didn't know how many had been sold.
Mediaite pointed out, however, that a simple Ticketmaster search shows many tickets still available for the Orlando event.
O'Reilly threatened to sue Politico reporter Daniel Lippman over the article. "You put one word in there that's not true, I'll sue your ass off and you can quote me on that," he told Lippman. "You're just a hatchet man and that's what you are."
Despite claims that there has been little or no marketing so far, both men have aggressively promoted the event. Trump and O'Reilly both plugged the event as a "great" Father's Day gift last month and O'Reilly has urged his podcast subscribers to become paying members in order to get early access to the events.
O'Reilly now hosts the "No Spin News" podcast. He was forced out at Fox News in 2017 after a New York Times report that he and the network had agreed to at least six settlements with women who accused him of sexual harassment, including a $32 million settlement with a woman who alleged a "nonconsensual sexual relationship."
Trump has also been accused of sexual misconduct, sexual assault and rape by more than a dozen women, though it's his role in stoking the Jan. 6 Capitol riot with lies about the 2020 election that has made him a mainstream pariah since leaving office. While Barack Obama has earned as much as $400,000 per speech and Bill Clinton has earned up to $750,000 per appearance, there appears to be little appetite among private companies to host Trump.
"For the past administration, there has been very little demand for former members, starting from the top, and it's largely because it's a very polarizing environment," the head of one of the largest speaking agencies in the country told Politico. "Companies don't want to get associated with anything that smells like Jan. 6 or questioning the election. That doesn't help them at all."