Love him or hate him, you’d be hard pressed to find an American who doesn’t have an opinion on the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump. For pro wrestling fans, their opinion of the Commander in Chief prior to the 2016 election was likely colored by his relationship with Vince McMahon and the WWF (now WWE). In TrumpMania: Vince McMahon, WWE and the making of America’s 45th President, author Lavie Margolin traces Trump’s roots from his days as Atlantic City hotel magnate through his Battle of the Billionaires at Wrestlemania 23 and eventual election to the WWE Hall of Fame. Margolin manages to do what few others in today’s politically charged landscape can; present an unbiased and factual account of Donald Trump’s legacy in the WWE (which, regardless of which side of the political aisle you may fall, is quite refreshing).
For Magorlin, a 30-year plus fan of WWE, the book presented an opportunity to combine his love of pro graps with his background in marketing and job coaching (something he did with previous shorter entries such as “Why Dusty Rhodes Is A Career Role Model” and “Don’t CM Punk Your Employer When Quitting“). I spoke with the Amazon Kindle bestselling author (see his highly successful 2014 tome Winning Answers To 500 Interview Questions) about Donald Trump, Vince McMahon and what it takes to succeed as a self-published author.
On How The Book Came Together
What gave you the idea/inspiration to write this book? The process began with just a concept. While watching Trump’s speeches as a candidate, and having some familiarity with his background with the WWE, it was hard to miss the connections. I had mentioned it to a friend as just one of several ideas for my next book (our previous books were based in the career space, such as job interviewing or using LinkedIn) and he became super excited about TrumpMania (although I hadn’t yet named it), which got me excited.
I had pictured it as a more straightforward project, where the information was fairly well known, but I’d be putting it together in a more linear fashion. But the more I dug, the more I found and the lesser known parts of the story were the most interesting. Once an angle for the book became apparent, writing a book seemed like a logical step.
The caricatures employed throughout the book really tie everything together nicely. How did you hook up w/ (artist) Box Brown for the art work?
I was a fan of Box’s Andre the Giant graphic novel and knew his style would look great for my book. I took a leap of faith and decided to email him, expressing my genuine interest in his work and inquiring if he’d consider working on my book. Thankfully, he said yes.
The book is quite detailed in documenting every interaction between Trump and WWE. What was the research process like? I really wanted to know everything about Trump and McMahon’s relationship and these time periods. I started with the insider newsletters- Wrestling Observer/Figure 4 Weekly and The Pro Wrestling Torch. I then utilized Newspapers.com, to search newspaper archives. I found that podcasts, especially The Lapsed Fan and What Happened When, to be especially helpful. Given the spotlight of the subject matter, there were a number of articles around election time that took a deep dive on this time period. I also went back and watched all of the relevant WWE programs.
Trump And Wrestling
In your book, you call Vince McMahon and Donald Trump the original “Hype Bros” – can you explain further? Vince and Trump have the ability to take something big and make it even bigger. Some of it is factual but some of it is based on ‘hype’. For example, a show or rally that had a great attendance will often have its numbers inflated by both parties- why do they have to say 30,000 where in attendance when 20,000 is impressive?
Donald Trump (love him or hate him) has a certain charisma and way of influencing an audience. Which superstars today do you think have that same ability? To connect with an audience at that level is a very difficult thing. When he was being himself, Dean Ambrose had a certain spark about him.
Donald Trump has often been described in wrestling terms (one of the best comparison’s I’ve heard is actor Nick Searcy’s analogy of Trump as an Attitude Era heel). Where do you think Trump falls on the wrestling character scale? He is a ‘tweener’. Jim Cornette put it best, that to some he is the biggest heel there ever was and to others, he is the greatest American hero.
What from the world of wrestling do you think translates into politics? What part of his WWE background do you think Trump brought to his campaign? The ability to delineate right from wrong (or at least the perception of it). This person is anti-American… this person is America’s hero… I believe he brought a nationalistic zeal and the ability to simplify information into smaller sound bites or digestible information. Things like ‘lock her up’ resonated with a percentage of the voting audience and were very hard for an opponent to shake.
When did you realize there was such a strong connection between Trump and WWE? Being a fan for 30 years, I knew the WWE enjoyed any connection with celebrity and would celebrate it. In some ways Trump legitimized the WWE to a public audience and the WWE legitimized Trump to their audience. McMahon and Trump are in search of respect and they found it in each other.
Despite writing extensively on pro wrestling, you’ve describe your current interest level in today’s WWE product as “mild”. Why is that? I love following the business but the current product doesn’t engage me as much. The last factions that held my interest were the Wyatts and The Shield. I have the WWE Network and watch “the old stuff” and usually try to catch the biggest events. As a dad of two, my time isn’t often my own. My superfan days were from 88-92 and 95-2001. I watch the business aspects very closely. I write some columns for ROHWORLD.com on Ring of Honor’s business.
Do you think President Trump will reappear on WWE programming anytime soon? I have no doubt he will after his presidency has concluded.
On Self Publishing
Margolin has over 20 books and ebooks to his name, opting to utilize Amazon’s CreateSpace for print editions and Amazon Kindle for ebooks.TrumpMania is self-published through an imprint Margolin created with his wife called H. Delilah Business & Career Press (the name is based off their first child’s name).
As a self published author can you make a profit on a book like this or is it more about getting your work/name out in the public? Yes, it is viable to make a profit in self publishing. It really changed with Amazon and their tools. One of the most important elements in print today is Print-On-Demand, in that each book isn’t published until someone orders it. Amazon then fulfills the order.
There are really no costs to starting but one should invest in a good cover, professional editor and layout to compete with the ‘big boys’. One should also consider a targeted marketing budget- such as for sending review copies or buying ads on Amazon.
Do you have any other advice to other authors getting started? As someone who has self published since 2010, know that it is a rough road with a big learning curve, but there is a great opportunity for success as well. Embrace the process. Also, don’t be afraid to fail. Thus far, I’ve had books sell less than 100 copies but Winning Answers to 500 Interview Questions has sold 5,000 and keeps selling since 2014.
More With Lavie Margolin
Check out his other work HERE
You can follow Lavie Margolin on Twitter (@LavieMarg)