Rykard Jenkins, a fitness trainer who appeared on the second season of the reality dating show Love Island, discovered that one of his Instagram photos was used to advertise a "Trump 2020" hat. However, the Trump 2020 team denied to BuzzFeed News the hat is an official piece of campaign merchandise.
"We would not be involved in the promotion of counterfeit merchandise," said Tim Murtaugh, a spokesperson for President Donald Trump's 2020 reelection effort.
Jenkins (who, by the way, is British) told BuzzFeed News a fan in the US sent him the photoshopped image from the site Conservativenews.co last week.
The website labeled itself "advertorial" and appears to use a name similar to the pro-Trump website Conservative Daily News. The page advertises giving away "these exclusive Trump 2020 hats for FREE." A doctored photo of Jenkins appears in one of the images advertising them.
"I was in complete shock," Jenkins said upon discovering his old Instagram photo on the website. "I couldn’t believe my photo had been used and altered to back a political campaign — especially one that is not of my own country."
Jenkins told BuzzFeed News he's not upset. In fact, he joked that this could be his big break in the US entertainment market.
"Politics aside, I was cast [for] The Challenge [on] MTV. When they asked why do I want to go on it, I replied, 'because I’ll be so great even the POTUS will tweet about me.'"
He was hoping Trump would tweet about this gaffe and raise his clout, and thereby increase his chances of having his TV appearances renewed.
"If Trump puts the order (tweet) in to get me on the next series then that’s a job well done," he said.
Unfortunately for Jenkins, the official presidential reelection campaign was not the one who stole his photo.
"That’s not our promotion," Murtaugh stated.
BuzzFeed News also reached out to Conservative Daily News, which said "Conservative News Daily is not our site."
"We are Conservative Daily News and have no affiliation with that other site," they said in an email.