There are niche dating websites for everything from Star Trek fans to cat lovers and seafarers and even fans of the works of Ayn Rand. Why not a site for Trump fans, too?
David Goss was at a Southern California bar on election night 2016, scribbling down ideas to rename TrumpSingles.com, his nascent dating site.
Since Donald Trump was about to lose the presidential election, Goss decided his site needed a new figurehead. Or at least a new name.
He considered Wealthy Person Dating, but that didn’t really roll off the tongue.
By day’s end, though, he received a news alert announcing that Trump had unexpectedly won the election. After that, people started flooding TrumpSingles.com.
Turns out it was the right name after all.
The week before Inauguration Day in January, Goss counted 18,000 active people on his site, more than twice how many were using it on election night. When Trump stood on the Capitol steps in Washington, DC and took the oath of office, TrumpSingles shot to 26,000 people.
Now, the site is pulling in enough cash — either by charging monthly fees for full use of the site or for individual messages — to cover his costs and for him to reinvest in the business. He even has a business partner.
“We didn’t expect to make it through November,” said Goss, 35, who used to help coordinate production for reality TV shows like “The Bachelor,” “Big Brother” and “Life Below Zero.”
Until now, the most harrowing challenge Goss faced was riding a snowmobile across a frozen ocean during a blizzard in Alaska. Now, he’s building a site named after one of the most unpopular presidents in US history. And it’s working.
Goss, who’s married and lives in the Santa Clarita Valley of California, isn’t the only entrepreneur to stumble into the world of online dating. Over the past few decades, sites devoted to matching people interested in all manner of topics have popped up. If you’re a sea captain looking for a first mate, as it were, there’s a site for you. Same with people who admire vampires, and video game players looking for a plus-one.
In some ways, they’re all offering an alternative to services like Tinder, Match.com, OKCupid and eHarmony, which sell themselves by promising large pools of people to choose from or by offering a sophisticated matching algorithm that trawls through listings before finding potential partners. But niche dating sites focused on religious affiliations — like JDate and ChristianMingle — are popular too. So, is it any surprise there’s one for Trump fans?
That doesn’t mean using sites like this is a good idea, said Nicole Ellison, a professor at the University of Michigan School of Information. “One of the potential pitfalls of online dating sites are that they encourage us to be more selective in not necessarily productive ways,” she said.
Often people end up choosing or dismissing people who have characteristics that don’t really matter in the end. “Technology can be enabling,” Ellison says, “but it can also encourage bad behavior.”
Yeah, well me too
Trump, 70, is known for his aggressive counter-attack style. So it’s probably no surprise Goss had the idea for his website after stumbling across BernieSingles.com in February 2016 as the primaries were heating up.
At first he was going to create a Trump style me-too site as a joke.
But then he started to think about it more. “Everyone on the left is hating the right, and everyone on the right is hating the left,” he said. Trump supporters might have trouble staying on a date with someone wearing their “I’m With Her” Hillary Clinton campaign slogan T-shirt, or vice versa.
And, he figured, it would make for a fun thing to do until the nomination.
The site’s tagline is even a slight wink at users: “Making Dating Great Again,” an homage to Trump’s campaign slogan.
By May, Goss began asking friends to create profiles and test the site. But people started finding it anyway, and by June, the New York Post wrote about his site. That’s when things took off.
When Trump was officially named the Republican nominee on July 19, Goss realized he’d be going until Election Day. Now, it’ll be at least four years.
On Inauguration Day alone, 70 stories mentioned TrumpSingles.com in some way, he said.
He set up the site to make money by charging customers a flat monthly fee of $19.99, or in small increments in order to communicate, a similar method other sites use. Each message costs five credits, and 10 credits cost $2.99. People can also gift credits to one another as a way of saying they’re a little more serious about talking.
He’s been advertising on Twitter, where the 45th president of the United States often speaks his mind too. Facebook’s ad managers won’t let him advertise because they think it’s a hoax, he said. Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Still, his site has attracted people from Europe, Africa, Australia, Russia and even Mexico. Yes, Mexico. “Trump is a phenomenon,” he said.
Most of Goss’ days are spent dealing with typical stuff for a dating site, such as fighting fake profiles, deleting spam and looking into inappropriate behavior. “It’s very tedious.”
Goss attempted to contact Trump’s staff, since he is using the family name without some sort of an agreement. But so far he hasn’t heard back. The White House didn’t respond to a request for comment.
Despite his success, Goss wishes the site wasn’t so popular. To him, it’s a sign America is still very divided.
But that hasn’t stopped him from setting up his first meet-up event at a local bar. It won’t be the one he was at during election night, though.
“They don’t want to promote political stuff,” he said.