Donald Trump’s All-Gold, $400 Sneakers? This Man Paid $9,000 for Them

Roman Sharf is the proud new owner of an autographed pair of the Never Surrender High Tops.

Donald Trump Gold Sneakers Never Surrender
Roman Sharf bought a signed pair of Donald Trump's Never Surrender sneakers for $9,000. Via Sharf
Donald Trump Gold Sneakers Never Surrender

Security looked a little different at Sneaker Con last weekend. Attendees funneling into the Philadelphia Convention Center on Saturday had to get through a gauntlet of metal detectors, X-ray machines, bomb-sniffing dogs, and Secret Service agents. For sneaker collectors, who will endure the worst of weather or chain themselves to a computer for hours in pursuit of a drop, this was a fresh set of obstacles.

The heightened security owed to the convention’s special guest, former President Donald Trump, who used his fever dream of an appearance at Sneaker Con to hawk a new line of sneakers.

“This is something I’ve been talking about for 12 years, 13 years,” Trump said onstage, weaving through cheers and jeers while standing against a backdrop advertising “And I think it’s gonna be a big success.”

At the convention, Trump introduced the Never Surrender High-Top, a gold-colored sneaker with an American flag motif around the collar and monogram “T” branding on the upper and tongue. Its design roughly traces the silhouette of the Air Jordan 1 and then hoses it down with a gaudy colorway that could have been lifted from the Supra Skytop, that zenith of aggressive skate sneakers. On the website where they are sold, the Never Surrender High-Tops are described as “your rally cry in shoe form.” Somehow, the sneakers are a real thing and not a vision from a stale SNL sketch. They cost $399.

Gold Trump Metallic Never Surrender Sneakers

When the sneakers were released on Saturday, only 1,000 individually numbered pairs were made available on pre-order. Every size was listed as sold out by the afternoon’s end, making Trump’s first sneaker launch an apparent success.

The Sneaker Con episode might be the bizarre endpoint for the trajectory of sneaker collecting, a once-niche hobby now mainstream enough to be considered, however cynically, on the campaign trail.

President Joe Biden’s team responded to Trump's merch with a spokesperson issuing a statement that Trump selling sneakers was “the closest he’ll get to any Air Force Ones ever again for the rest of his life.” Trump’s appearance came the day after a judge in New York ordered him to pay penalties of over $450 million in a civil fraud case.

Trump, the front-runner for the Republican nomination in this year’s presidential race, reminded his audience that there were things even more serious than sneakers.

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“What’s the most important thing?” Trump asked onstage. “To go out and vote, right? We have to go out and vote.”

Luxury watch dealer Roman Sharf, whose viral videos on rare timepieces are inescapable on social media, was there at Sneaker Con with his 20-year-old son Marcus, who runs a reselling business called Hyp Miami. The elder Sharf bought a pair of the Never Surrenders online as he watched Trump’s short speech. Minutes later, he spent $9,000 on a second pair, this one signed by Trump and offered for sale via auction on the app Whatnot.

A handful of high-profile collectors at the convention got a chance to meet the former president. These chosen few, among them Benjamin Kickz and Jaysse Lopez, posed for photos with Trump and were gifted signed pairs of his new sneakers. The ones Sharf bought came from that group. He showed some restraint, abstaining from the knit Red Wave and POTUS 45 sneakers also listed for sale on Trump’s site.

“I wasn’t a fan of them aesthetically,” says Sharf, who calls himself a sneakerhead.

He is happy to have secured two pairs of the Never Surrenders, though, and even happier to be reaping the benefits of the publicity his purchase earned him. Sharf says that since he bought the Trump sneakers last weekend, he’s fielded nonstop interview requests. Like Sneaker Con, which has been criticized for hosting Trump, he’s also waded through negative feedback from social media followers who condemned him for aligning with the former president.

Here, Sharf talks about going to Sneaker Con, why it makes sense that Trump would attend the show, and why he spent $9,000 on a pair of autographed, all-gold Trump sneakers. The interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.

Have you ever been to a Sneaker Con before?
Yes, I have. I think the first Sneaker Con I attended was when my son Marcus got into sneakers at an early age of like, 12. That was the first Sneaker Con I attended, in New York City with him.

When was that?
This was eight years, nine years ago actually. It was my first.

Were you already aware of the collectible sneaker market at that point? Did you know how much stuff resold for and how people were lining up?
I was somewhat aware because being myself a sneakerhead. I don't consider myself a true sneakerhead in a sense where I know a ton of information. I'm a sneakerhead from a perspective of how many sneakers I own and how much I love sneakers and that's all I wear.

How many pairs is that?
I am probably sitting at a little bit over 100 pairs.

Donald Trump signing Orange Lobster Nike SB Dunks

Do you go to Sneaker Cons regularly? Was this one you had planned to go to anyway or did you only go because Trump was gonna be there?
No, I actually went there because my son, who currently resides in Florida, has been out of the house for the last two years because he decided to go to University of Miami. He was displaying at the show and, for me, it was a way to spend an entire day with my son, number one. And I do go to those events, and I do look for rare sneakers.

I found out about Trump after I already made plans to go there with my son.

Were you worried that it was going to be chaotic?
Well, oddly enough, I know Alan, the guy who runs Sneaker Con, very well. He's one of my fans on my YouTube channel, and he actually came up to me and I'm like, it's not any more chaotic than it usually is. Last year's same Sneaker Con, Philadelphia, the line was still, you know, four blocks long around the entire block of the Convention Center.

So, yes, it was more chaotic, obviously due to all the security measures and everything else. But for the most part, they're that chaotic every time, at least in Philadelphia, which I've been to.

What was the security like?
So the normal security of Sneaker Con in Philadelphia is you come through, you're not allowed to bring in—because in Pennsylvania you can legally carry weapons—you're not allowed to bring in any weapons. You go through metal detectors, and then you get to go inside the show.

This time around, you had the regular security from Sneaker Con, but you also had Secret Service security. So you had a line of the metal detectors. Then they set up an airport scanner where those people that come in with shoes, they needed to go through a scanner. There were dogs everywhere and there was a second line of Secret Service security ones that were tactical uniforms as well as ones in suits. So it was like three lines of security to get in. Lucky for me, I got in as a vendor with my son.

But even at the vendor entrance in the morning before the show opened, again, airport-like security, individual screening, every single bag was checked, opened, screened. Listen, it's the Secret Service. That was probably the safest place to be, as far as I'm concerned—this Saturday’s Sneaker Con.

Donald Trump holding Trump Never Surrender Gold Sneakers

I assume you're a Donald Trump supporter because of how much you paid for the sneakers. But does it feel weird to see him interacting with sneaker culture?
I look at things from a very straightforward perspective. I don't conspire on anything. And I just, I just tell people how it is. I always have; the idea is very simple.

Pennsylvania is a key state in any presidential race, whether it's Donald Trump or anybody else. And Philadelphia County is probably what counts for most. And historically, that has always went to the Democratic Party. So I think Trump showing up and appealing to the sneaker culture to a mostly young population was a good move on his part, as far as I'm concerned.

And I am a Donald Trump fan, and at the same token, I'm also a sneakerhead. So when I was going in to buy those sneakers, it was just like, OK, here's a rare pair of sneakers, right? One that's going to be signed by Donald Trump—it's a friends-and-family pair. So there's only 50 pairs made. So, for me, it was just like, wow, I'm killing two birds with one stone here.

I don't know if you have this feeling in the watch world, but for sneaker collectors, for people who care a lot about it and made it their hobby, it sometimes feels exploitative when there's an outside party that's coming in and trying to cash in when it doesn't feel like they have a legitimate connection to it. Do you know what I mean?
Oh, I agree with that. And I've spoken to some of the sneaker guys on the floor. But at the end of the day, you have to understand that the people that were there, these are people that are in the industry. They're in the industry to buy rare pieces in order to resell them and make money. I got a $12,000 offer five minutes after I bought those sneakers right on the floor from somebody who felt that they could resell them for more money.

So oftentimes I think most of them took the politics out of it and looked at it more as a sneaker or potential investment for those who were in the business.

But do you feel protective at all about, let's say, collecting watches?
It's funny because in the watch space, it's very rare somebody tries to enter that space, because it's a very, very difficult space to enter. I mean, you're going up against companies that are hundreds of years old with a lot of history behind them.

I did an interview with Dave Portnoy. He came on to my channel on YouTube, where he tried to enter that space and he himself said, “Oh, I fucked up. You know, I didn't realize just how niche the space was and how defensive the people in the space are. It's like I was producing that, the Brick watch, as just anything, any other merchandise I would produce. And I didn't realize how protective that space is.” I do feel that I don't know if I know the sneaker space enough, but I would imagine that some of the true sneakerheads may have felt the same way.

Like, what is Donald Trump doing entering the sneaker space? But I also know that the sneakers sold out almost instantly after the announcement. So obviously the majority of the people felt like this was a good release.

Donald Trump Sneakers Inside tongue

Or at least 1,000 of them. 

To me, it's hard because I don't see his connection to the sneaker-buying public. There's the moment onstage where he says, “We're gonna remember Sneaker Con.” I just don't know what that means.
Again, you have to also understand that politics is a completely different world, in my opinion. And this is my opinion only—I may be wrong. I may be right. But it's a question of any candidate out there appealing to a certain demographic, right? And the sneaker community, it's huge. These sneakers have been posted everywhere, any and all sneaker publications, any and all sneaker Instagram accounts, YouTube channels. They've been talking about the sneaker for the last 48 hours nonstop.

What does that do? That gives you exposure to a certain community. Now, that doesn't mean that everyone in that community is gonna take well to you. But at the end of the day, it's a numbers game, right? I put out a YouTube video, it gets a couple of hundred thousand views, and you know, I get good comments. I also get bad comments. I also get hated on, on Reddit, right? It sounds cliché, but all publicity is good publicity.

At the end of the day, it's a numbers game. Even if Donald Trump reached five percent of the community in a way, where in a positive way, where that ultimately could result in a vote for him, that's a win, because those who wouldn't vote for him to begin with, this wouldn't change their mind, right?

For guys like us in the watch industry, it's bringing in enough eyes, and it's a numbers game, a certain percentage ends up being a fan and then ultimately a purchaser of a watch. I just made a client, right? If I'm the one that pops up in your feed all the time and you decide to purchase a watch, you're gonna come to me just like anybody who decides to go out and vote and all of a sudden can relate to Donald Trump in the sneaker space, and they decide to go out to vote. Odds are they'll vote for him.

A pair of white commemorative sneakers with "45", a golden eagle, "T", and American flag motifs, plus "POTUS45" text

I just wonder if he convinced anybody, because it didn't feel very relatable.
It's funny being in a crowd. First of all, the setting was a little, I mean, welcome to Philadelphia. The setting was a little bit rowdy and you know, there was a lot of screaming and yelling. I could barely hear what Donald had to say.

How much cheering versus booing was there? It's hard to tell from the videos.
So, for the most part, it was cheering. You did have somebody who is obviously from an opposite political party. Just purposely annoying, every 30 seconds screaming vulgar terminology. It was one person where there was one girl that kept yelling, the screeching, most annoying voice, derogatory terms toward Trump. But for the most part, you had a lot of MAGA-wearing supporters there. And guess what? There was a couple of boos, but certainly, I would say, 85 percent were for Trump rather than against.

Are you worried about the blowback on your own channel? I don't know if you've supported Trump publicly in the past.
People are very well aware that I am a Republican. I don't hide that fact. I try to stay away from political things on my social media. I say, you know, ball players should play ball and not get into politics. Neither do I. There are some exceptions. And the first exception happened to me on my YouTube channel when I publicly supported the police when it was very unpopular to do so.

Do you think you'll lose business? Do you think the people in the comments section who are saying “I'm not going to support you” mean it?
The people in the comments section saying “unfollow” and “I will never do business with you because you're a Trump supporter” were not my clients to begin with. 

If anything, I think this will result in increase in business because me being plastered all over the world on every major news channel right now, I think, is going to bring awareness to my brand and me. And for those that will make their decision of whether or not they should do business with someone based on their political affiliation, I think that's just downright stupid. I'm sorry.

Was there a ceiling on what you were willing to pay for the sneakers?
People think that I'm just this guy that's throwing money around and so on and so forth. I collect many other things. I'm a big Formula 1 fan, I collect Formula 1 cars. I mean, I have a Formula 1 car hanging in my office. But I'm also smart at the same time.

I knew going in there that they were going to fetch around $10,000, and I knew it probably wouldn't go over there because that auction happened very, very fresh. Donald Trump just left the stage, and 15 minutes later, I believe it was Culture Kicks that threw the pair up on WhatNot. And in my mind, I'm saying to myself, OK, most likely this will fetch $10,000.

And that's what I ended up spending on a pair of shoes that I felt were going to be worth the money that I paid for them as a collectible shoe. What I didn't know was that I was probably going to get $2 million worth of publicity by spending $10,000, because by people picking up that story and plastering all over the internet, I'm just like, oh my God. If somebody told me ahead of time that I spent $10,000 for this type of exposure, I would have been like, of course, of course. Going in, that wasn't the plan. I just wanted that pair of sneakers with his signature.

Gold sneaker with signature on the toe, in front of a sign reading "TRUMP Friends & Family"

I can understand how the exposure is worth it. But I feel like $9,000 is not a price that's gonna hold on a pair of sneakers like this over the years.
Well, I would love to agree with you. But five minutes after I purchased them, I was offered $12,000 for them. This morning, on one of the watch dealer chats, somebody offered me $15,000 for them. But because of all the exposure and everything else, I'm in a position where I can't really sell it now, because then I would look like an idiot.

I have my own charity organization. I may sell them as some type of an auction setting with the money going to charity. The only thing is that I have to check with my legal team in regards to how that works, because I am an officer of the charity, obviously. And technically, I'm the one that won the product. Everything we do with my charity, we do squeaky clean.

Some of these super high-end sneakers, we've seen their values crash over the last couple of years. There's a pair of Yeezys that sold for $2 million at one point, and then a couple of years later, they sold for 10 percent of their value. So I have to wonder whether or not the value of these sneakers could drop.
Trump has a fanbase. He has a solid fanbase, and it's certainly not going to be a person that voted for Biden that would want to buy these sneakers. Although sometimes you'd be surprised; a lot of the times, it's the opposite side that collects stuff, which is really weird.

When you're spending big money on watches, do you want the price you pay to reflect the level of craftsmanship that went into it? Because this shoe doesn't really look to me like it can justify a $400 price, much less the $9,000 price. Do you care about the actual quality?
It's actually a pretty decent quality. It's pretty decent leather. I don't know how to judge craftsmanship in a shoe. I wouldn't say I'm the foremost expert. When it comes to the watches, it's often, yes, the craftsmanship is a default thing. Because I deal in watches from high-end brands, and quality is certainly up there.

But you'd be shocked as to how many even watch brands out there, and I won't mention any names, where the quality does not match the price.

Do you feel like the quality matches the price on the Trump sneakers?
I don't think I am an expert enough to say; that's something that my son would be able to tell. And I actually didn't ask him that question when he saw the shoes. It's very hard for me to judge because I'm just not in that space in that sense.

Do you ever plan on wearing the shoes or is it something that you just want to put up?
This is something that's gonna go into one of those cool sneaker cases and go on a shelf among the million other collectibles I have in my office.

No plans to wear them?
I don't wanna wear the signed ones, because they are signed. These are not my size. These are 11s. I'm a size 10. So I'm actually, once the 10s come in, I'm actually gonna put them on and see how comfortable they are.

I have to ask for what occasion.
I don't know. I'm one of those guys who, you know, I'm not your typical suit-and-tie guy. I'm a jeans, sweatshirt, sneakers. So I don't know if it necessarily has to be an occasion. When I go to Sneaker Con with my son, I try to put on something rare. I was wearing the original 750s.

We went to the last Sneaker Con…what was I wearing? I put on the “Homegrown” Air Max 90s. They're, like, impossible to find.

When I go to a watch show, I'm gonna try to put on something that nobody else has on their wrist. But as far as the Trump sneakers, I don't think there has to be any special event for me to wear them. I will most likely wear them to the next Sneaker Con, considering how much media attention caught over the ones that are signed. But the signed ones, I would never put on, because that would just ruin them.

Are you worried at all about the attention that comes with them? It's interesting to hear you say that you wore the Yeezys when a lot of people feel like they don't want to wear Yeezy anymore.
Because of Kanye, I was asked that question when the whole controversy and the antisemitic things came out about Kanye. And if people ask me, you being Jewish, would you still wear Yeezy? I'm like, well, should I give back my Mercedes-Benz while I'm at it? The actions of one person should not wholly reflect on a product. Unfortunately, this country has gotten so divided as of late that people are just waiting to jump on a chance to dog a company. Look what happened to Bud Light when they put on [Dylan Mulvaney]. The girl that was on a can and she was transgender and then she got on the can, and all of a sudden, Bud Light, the stocks went down.