In 1989, Milton Bradley created Trump: The Game, following the success of Donald Trump's 1987 bestseller The Art of the Deal. The copy shown here is a vintage version; a later one was released in 2004 after Trump started appearing on The Apprentice. Everything about a Trump presidential candidacy could have been predicted from this game:
The thirst for power: The game was designed to be somewhat similar to Monopoly. During a first round, players move little plastic "T" shapes around the board until all eight properties — including a casino, tropical island, sports complex, and cruise line — are bought up. Sometimes players must put money into a property (each "property" is represented by a box into which you can slip paper "bills"), thus increasing its value — but unlike a real tax, the money comes from the bank, not the player.
During a second round, using cards and money that they accrued in round one, players bid against one another for properties and try to force one another out of the bidding, so properties change hands. Property boxes can be opened up to see how much value they contain. The person with the most money wins. The game motto is, "It's not whether you win or lose, but whether you win!"
The bluster: This game comes with a somewhat confusing 12-page set of directions. Nobody wants to spend hours deciphering instructions to play a board game — so, like the Republican Party, players may understandably succumb to the unstoppable Trumpian wave and improvise as they go. Here's Trump's welcome letter:
The unapologetic narcissism: In Trump's world, denominations start not at ten dollars — but at ten million dollars! Denominations go up to $100 million. Of course, the bills all have Trump's face on them. Is this a vision of our future?
The disregard for losers: On the die, there is no number six; it has been replaced with a "T." Of course the T is the best option you can roll. It allows you to grab properties from others and steamroll along, unworried about collateral damage.
The unintentional hilarity: See above and Trump's entire campaign.
And... Trump's appeal: Trump values greed, strength, money, and power — and he exhibits no shame, guilt or complications about it. The simplicity is alluring. I won't lie: Snatching property and counting up $910 million feels rather entertaining, as long as you don't worry about reality or the losers who get screwed by your actions.
I stumbled across this in the game cabinet of a $2 million vacation house I was staying at in Texas. Online, the vintage version of Trump: the Game can be found for about $30 to $150; the more recent version — updated with the tag line "I'm Back and You're Fired" — could also be found in that price range.
Here's a commercial from the time the game debuted:
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