In politics, a candidate’s name and reputation is everything; for Donald Trump, it’s also a multi-billion dollar industry.
While the Republican 2016 presidential hopeful makes most of his money as a real estate mogul, the Trump name and brand is actually his biggest asset – and the one that’s suffering as retailers continue to distance themselves from him and the derisive comments he made about Mexicans at his campaign kickoff last month.
On Wednesday, Macy’s announced that they’d phase out the Trump menswear line –Trump-branded ties, shirts, and even a fragrance, “Success” – following international outrage over his contention that Mexican immigrants to the U.S. are criminals and “rapists.”
Trump-branded mattresses saw the same fate: “Serta values diversity and does not agree with nor endorse the recent statements made by Mr. Trump,” the mattress-maker told Bloomberg in a statement Wednesday, adding that they’re “in the process of unwinding our relationship.”
Trump shook the Macy’s deal off, in typical Trump fashion, claiming it was his decision all along and that he never made any money from the Macy’s partnerships in the first place. “My principles are far more important,” he said in a statement.
But what Trump isn’t saying is that his name – and the reputation that goes with it – is actually the massive moneymaker.
In a financial disclosure Trump released upon declaring his candidacy, the businessman and reality TV star said $3.3 billion of his assets come from “real estate licensing deals, brand and branded developments” – the many real estate endeavors that rent Trump’s name for its iconic branding and seal-of-approval, despite the fact he has little to do with most of the projects.
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“It’s a genius business strategy, he’s literally getting paid to do nothing,” Mission Wealth Management’s Kieran Osborne told msnbc. Osborne in the past has previously cast doubt on Trump’s estimation of his net worth.
Trump has also lost business deals with NBC Universal and Univision over the Miss Universe and Miss USA pageants, the golf community Trump swore would stand by him has also sought its distance. While those projects may be less revenue producing, Osborne said the myriad defections suggest the Trump brand could be at risk.
“These controversial statements – discriminatory statements really – could put some of that brand and revenue streams in jeopardy,” he said. “I don’t know for sure that a lot of buildings will want to take down the Trump brand but there’s certainly a risk that would have happen. Macy’s wouldn’t have severed the relationship with the Trump branded merchandise if there wasn’t a risk.”
Trump’s spokeswoman Hope Hicks declined to comment for this story, but in a statement following news that Macy’s would stop selling his products, Trump lambasted his critics in a statement and lauded his own success.
“I have always said that if you are successful, it is very hard to run for office, especially the office of President. I have also continually stated that I am not beholden to anyone and this includes NBC and Macy’s. Clearly, NBC and Macy’s support illegal immigration, which is totally detrimental to the fabric of our once great country,” he said in a lengthy statement that attacked everything from China’s currency to current elected officials.
Trump is far from going bankrupt – he has estimated his own net worth at $8.7 billion – but if the first two weeks of his presidential bid are any sign, it’s the business that put “the Donald” on the national stage may suffer the most for its namesake’s political ambitions.