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Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for President Donald Trump's 2020 campaign, said in a tweet Sunday that 12,000 people "made it past protestors" and attended Saturday evening's rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
But Andrew Little, a Tulsa Fire Department public-information officer, told several outlets on Sunday that the number of attendees was just under 6,200, far fewer people than the Trump campaign was expecting.
The rally's lower-than-expected turnout has been hailed a success by teenagers on TikTok, who said they signed up for large numbers of tickets to the rally with no intention of attending.
President Donald Trump's reelection campaign says that 12,000 people attended his comeback rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday evening — nearly double the estimate put out by the Tulsa Fire Department.
Tim Murtaugh, the communications director for Trump's 2020 campaign, said in a tweet Sunday that 12,000 people "made it past protestors" and attended the rally.
Murtaugh added that the lower bowl of the Bank of Oklahoma Center — the arena where the rally was held — was full. The BOK center can seat up to 19,199 people.
Attendance of 12,000 would itself have been far below the Trump campaign's expectations for a full house and an overflow section with tens of thousands more people, but independent tallies put the rally's attendance well below even that new number.
According to The Hill, a fire marshall recorded the tally at about 7:30 p.m. on Saturday. The number did not account for members of the media, Trump's campaign staff, or those in suite seating.
Trump boasted in a tweet last week that nearly 1 million people requested tickets to the Tulsa rally.
But teenagers on TikTok have said they signed up for large numbers of tickets with no intention of attending with the hope that Trump would be addressing a near-empty stadium. The New York Times said the huge online network of K-pop fans also participated in the social-media movement.
Trump was ultimately forced to cancel plans to make a speech outside the stadium for the anticipated overflow crowd, which failed to materialize. Reporters who attended the event referred to it as "sparsely filled."
The Times also fact-checked the Trump campaign's claim that protesters blocked the arena's entrance, with several news organizations reporting that protests were sparse and mostly peaceful.
Brad Parscale, Trump's 2020 campaign manager, said in a statement that claims of "ticket hacking" were untrue.
"Leftists and online trolls doing a victory lap, thinking they somehow impacted rally attendance, don't know what they're talking about or how our rallies work," Parscale said. "Reporters who wrote gleefully about TikTok and K-pop fans — without contacting the campaign for comment — behaved unprofessionally and were willing dupes to the charade."
According to Parscale, Trump's campaign "weeded out" fake phone numbers used to sign up for rally tickets.
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