When Stormy Daniels met Donald Trump at the Beverly Hills Hotel in 2007, she says he was glued to the television, too engrossed in Shark Week programming to even acknowledge Daniels’ presence. Daniels and Trump were allegedly in the throes of their now-infamous affair, but didn’t get up to much that evening, according to Daniels. Rather, she explained, they just watched a documentary about the worst shark attacks in history.
Daniels discussed this odd moment in an interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper earlier this year. She’d previously told In Touch, “[Trump] is obsessed with sharks. Terrified of sharks. He was like, ‘I donate to all these charities and I would never donate to any charity that helps sharks. I hope all the sharks die.’”
The adult actress shared her anecdote about Trump and sharks in March, long before summer Shark Week programming began airing this week. While the start of this year’s Shark Week went largely unnoticed, Stephen Colbert gleefully reminded us of the gravity of the situation last night. “This is the first Shark Week since we learned that in an attempt to seduce Stormy Daniels, Donald Trump invited her to watch two-and-a-half hours of Shark Week, or as the kids call it, ‘Netflix and krill,’” he explained on The Late Show.
Colbert went on to light a “fin-norah” in celebration of this year’s Shark Week, which he calls “one of the two holiest of holidays” next to Christmas.
While Trump may enjoy watching Shark Week documentaries, he’s made no secret of his distaste for the animals in real life, tweeting in 2014, “Sorry folks, I’m just not a fan of sharks.” He also lumped sharks together with the “losers and haters of the world.”
Sharks have, unfortunately, been getting a bad rap lately. In New York last week, a pair of supposed shark attacks on Long Island—the first such attacks in 70 years—rattled beachgoers and veteran New Yorkers alike. Sharks pulled from the water after the attack were thankfully released, but officials cautioned beachgoers to stay vigilant all the same.
While precious few are keen to encounter a shark in the wild, Trump’s beef with the animals is irrational, though not entirely unsurprising. The president apparently doesn’t enjoy swimming, according to an interview with his former butler in the Telegraph, and is so disturbed by the sight of blood that he once let an eighty-year-old man bleed profusely at his feet instead of helping him—and at a charity ball, no less.
So does Trump’s vendetta against sharks have merit? Statistically, not really. In 2017, there were only 88 unprovoked shark attacks worldwide, with 53 of them occurring in the U.S., according to Florida Museum’s International Shark Attack file. And while most of these attacks occurred in Florida (with only five in Palm Beach County, where Trump’s Mar-a-Lago is located), not one U.S. shark attack was fatal last year. It’s also worth noting that most of these shark attacks occurred when the victims were surfing—and since Trump hates the water, the possibility of a shark attacking him seems pretty low.
In addition to sharks, the president also has a long-standing beef with windmills, and is allegedly fearful of stairs, having repeatedly clutched UK prime minister Theresa May’s hand when they descended down stairs together during his state visits. Trump also doesn’t mix well with bald eagles, after a 2016 Time magazine cover shoot featuring the unruly bird in question got a bit out of hand. Behind-the-scenes footage has yielded priceless GIFs of the president cowering in terror as the bird lunges at him. Trump later called the eagle “seriously dangerous, but beautiful,” which is higher praise than he’s had for most women, let alone wild animals.
After last week’s shark hysteria on Long Island, experts were quick to emphasize that shark attacks are extremely rare. Per the International Shark Attack File, you’re more likely to die from heart disease, a car accident, or even from being struck by lightning than you are from shark-related injuries; odds of dying from a shark attack are 1 in 3,748,067.
The president undoubtedly has a lot more pressing worries—like how to carefully craft a Twitter threat, or the ongoing Mueller investigation—keeping him awake at night. Sharks shouldn’t be one of them.