At a recent conference for conservative youth, President Donald Trump spoke in front of a parody version of the presidential seal inspired by Russia's coat of arms, featuring a wad of cash and golf clubs.
Turning Point USA, which organized the Teen Student Action Summit earlier this week, has said the display was a mistake. In a video from Tuesday's event, it doesn't look like anyone immediately noticed. According to the Washington Post, the audio/video aide who found it online and, in a rush for time, included it in the day's visuals has been fired.
The actual presidential seal was displayed on a lectern where Trump spoke for about 80 minutes to enthusiastic young supporters. Behind him, a projection featured the parody seal, in which the bald eagle is swapped for the double-headed eagle from the Russian Federation's coat of arms. Instead of the typical olive branch and arrows, the parody seal shows the eagle clutching a wad of cash and golf clubs. "E pluribus unum," a motto of the United States, is replaced with "45 es un títere" — Spanish for "45 is a puppet."
Charles Leazott, a graphic designer from Virginia and the seal's creator, said he has no idea how his design made it to an event featuring Trump — but he's happy it did.
"I've had the biggest grin on my face all day for the most petty reasons," he told BuzzFeed News. "This is the most petty piece of art I've ever created. It was made as a joke, an emotional release. To see him speak in front of it just cracked me up."
Leazott saw the presidential mistake as he was reading headlines on Reddit Thursday morning. At first, he didn't realize the parody seal was the one he'd made in 2016 — he hadn't thought about it in years.
In 2016, he made the design in his spare time after reading a news story about Trump's travel to his various golf course properties. After sharing it with friends, someone wanted to buy a T-shirt and Leazott created a simple online store.
He said the website went dark after a few months, so he's not sure where a Turning Point staffer would have found the seal.
Turning Point did not respond to BuzzFeed News' request for comment. A White House spokesperson said they hadn’t seen the image before the event.
"You would have had to go looking for it," Leazott said. "It was on the internet in a couple of places, but it wasn't something that would have shown up in the first 100 pages of Google image search before today."
But since this week's attention, he has had "overwhelming requests" about the seal and has reactivated his store. There have been a lot of sales, but he said it's not about the money.
"I'm really getting a kick just that it happened," he said. "The fact that it was up there is amazing."