Fact check: Trump revives lie that he was long ago named ‘Man of the Year’ in Michigan

For the third consecutive presidential election, former President Donald Trump is lying that he was named “Man of the Year” in Michigan before he ran for president.

Trump said it again on Saturday during a speech in Detroit: “You know, I got the ‘Man of the Year’ in Michigan. Years ago, long before politics, like 12, 13 years ago.”

Facts First: Trump’s claim remains false. Nobody has ever been able to find any evidence that he was ever named “Man of the Year” in Michigan before he ran for president. The state itself does not give out a “Man of the Year” award; Trump has never lived in Michigan; and he has never specified who supposedly gave him this award and when.

After nearly seven years of media fact checks of Trump’s many declarations that he had once been named Man of the Year in Michigan, a Republican group in the state, the Oakland County Republican Party, gave him its first-ever “Man of the Decade” award at an event in 2023.

But Trump made clear Saturday that this is not what he was talking about. Rather, he said again that he had been named “Man of the Year” in Michigan more than a decade ago.

Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to CNN’s Sunday request for any evidence that he received such an award.

Trump himself has professed confusion about who supposedly gave him the award and why. In a 2022 speech in Michigan, he said, “Your Chamber of Commerce, somebody, who the hell knows what it is, they named me the Man of the Year in Michigan.” (Michigan’s Chamber of Commerce had long made clear that it did not have such an award.) In a 2019 speech in New Hampshire, Trump said, “In fact, five or six years before I even thought about running, for whatever reason they named me ‘Man of the Year’ in Michigan. I said, ‘How come?’ I didn’t even understand it myself.’”

The most plausible explanation of Trump’s story — to be specific, the most plausible explanation of what Trump has been inaccurately describing — came from Dave Trott, a former Republican US congressman in Michigan.

After Trump made the claim in 2019, Trott contacted CNN to note that at a roundtable event with automotive executives in 2017, Trump had suggested he received the “Man of the Year” award at a 2013 event in Michigan where Trott had invited him to give a speech, a Lincoln Day dinner Trott had chaired in Oakland County. At that event, Trott gave Trump a framed copy of Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and other gifts. But Trott emphatically noted that he did not give Trump any “Man of the Year” award, nor did anyone else there.

Trott had become a fierce Trump critic by 2019. He told CNN then that, as a sitting congressman during the 2017 roundtable, “I wasn’t going to correct the president in front of the automotive executives.” He added: “But now that I’m out of Congress, I feel comfortable correcting the story.”

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