There’s a wild conspiracy theory people really want to believe: that Melania Trump has been replaced with a fake.
It’s honestly not the most complex of theories, and seems mostly to centre around a large pair of sunglasses and a seemingly innocuous sentence uttered by her husband President Donald Trump, but it’s captured the imagination of a lot of people.
It kicked off on October 13, on Facebook, which during the US election became a breeding ground for conspiracies.
It’s unclear whether the initial post was meant as a joke, but people in the comments certainly took it seriously – and the post has gone on to receive over 100,000 shares. It features this video.
"We've done a great job in Puerto Rico," President Trump says of hurricane relief efforts https://t.co/76jXCrGqVV
— NBC News (@NBCNews) October 13, 2017
The claim was then posted to Twitter by @JoeVargas, with a clip of Melania standing next to the president in which Trump said: “My wife Melania, who happens to be right here”.
Vargas wrote: “This is not Melania. Mind blowing.”
Let me save you some time from looking it up. It's not her. pic.twitter.com/IJjHEzWs8p
— BuyLegalMeds.com (@JoeVargas) October 18, 2017
After the story was picked up by US media outlets, Vargas took to Twitter to claim he’d received death threats, and reassert that he was being serious.
“Idc what the news says. That clip was not Melania Trump and I’m serious. If she showed up later, cool. She was prob late. Don’t be dumb,” he wrote.
Vargas’s original post has received over 50,000 retweets at the time of writing, and he’s used the virality well – to promote his online “legal meds” store. So you make your own mind up about that.
Nonetheless, some people were willing to believe the theory, despite there being a host of other pictures from that day showing a person who is very clearly Melania.
The nose looks like it's attached to the sunglasses, is anyone else seeing that? 😂😂
— Beatrix (@_beaverhousen) October 18, 2017
Really though, the conspiracy theory came good in the end, because Twitter took the opportunity to make some very, very good jokes.
This is not Melania. To think they would go this far & try & make us think its her on TV is mind blowing. Makes me wonder what else is a lie pic.twitter.com/NCYIJfeVhx
— Patrick Monahan (@pattymo) October 18, 2017
Me: I can't deal with all this fake news, it's harming American democracy
Twitter: Melania Trump has a body double
— Sam Stryker (@sbstryker) October 18, 2017
It is I, the real Melania, reporting for duty. pic.twitter.com/6NBMSF7TVV
— Kashana (@kashanacauley) October 18, 2017
Fake Melania Trump leaving the press conference after securing the bag pic.twitter.com/SYsYUnH2Cn
— Spooky X (@XLNB) October 18, 2017
Me: conspiracy theories are stupidTwitter: Donald Trump is going around with a fake Melania stunt doubleMe: pic.twitter.com/9UdkMWWdVG
— regina phalange (@rhcphaley) October 18, 2017
You know, I want to say "of course that's Melania, not a body double" but things are generally too weird in 2017 to rule anything out
— BOOisa 💀🌹🍞🌹💀 (@LouisatheLast) October 18, 2017
Maybe there's loads of them? Melania Melanib Melanic MelanidMelanieMelanifMelanig Etc… https://t.co/zPoozVuyTr
— Greg Jenner (@greg_jenner) October 18, 2017
In the end, maybe it’s those who choose not to believe that are the real losers here.
if you do not choose to believe in the existence of fake melania I encourage you to find more room in your heart for joy and whimsy today
— Alex Trimboli (@Nicole_Cliffe) October 18, 2017