February 2, 2023

“I’ll also be doing Zoom calls, one-on-one meetings, autographing memorabilia and so much more,” Mr. Trump says in the video.

The former president had banked $100 million before his presidential announcement across several political accounts, but none of that money may be used to finance his candidacy directly.

At the same time, Mr. Trump’s aides released, to a friendly Twitter user, a video of the former president in which he makes promises about cracking down on online censorship if he reclaims his old office. But Mr. Trump’s direct pitch for the trading cards underscored how secondary his campaign for president has seemed to his personal efforts over the last month.

For a day, Republicans and even some Democrats speculated about what Mr. Trump might have planned for his major announcement, assuming it related to his campaign or even the race for House speaker. The disbelief at the ultimate announcement was palpable.

The company selling the cards, NFT INT L.L.C., was founded in February in Delaware, according to public records. The trading card website lists a company address that corresponds to a mailbox in a UPS Store in Park City, Utah.

On the site, the company notes that it is “not owned, managed or controlled by Donald J. Trump” and says that it uses his name, likeness and image “under paid license” from a company called CIC Digital L.L.C., which was formed in April 2021 at an address that matches the Trump International Golf Club in West Palm Beach, Fla., according to public records. Public records show that a company called CIC Ventures LLC, founded in 2021, has Nick Luna, a former assistant to Mr. Trump, and John Marion, one of the former president’s lawyers, as directors.

The website promises that buyers of cards will be entered in a sweepstakes “for a chance to win 1000’s of incredible prizes and meet the one and only #45!” Fine print on the site indicates that the sum value of all the prizes is $54,695 but also states that the dollar value for a 20-minute meeting with Mr. Trump at Mar-a-Lago is “priceless.” It also indicates that winners of face-to-face meetings will have to cover their own travel and lodging costs to get to Mar-a-Lago.

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