Stormy Daniels’s 2011 interview with In Touch Weekly revealed some things about Donald Trump that we may want permanently scrubbed from our brains. But regardless of whether the porn star had an affair with the president, her story does contain one bit of trivia that’s probably going to follow Trump for a while: He is allegedly terrified of sharks.
“You could see the television from the little dining room table, and he was watching Shark Week, and he was watching a special about the USS something and it sank and it was like the worst shark attack in history,” Daniels told In Touch of an alleged visit with Trump at the Beverly Hills Hotel. “He 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.’ He was like riveted. He was like obsessed. It’s so strange, I know.”
Given the popularity of Discovery’s Shark Week shows, Trump isn’t alone in his galeophobia — though not many would go so far as to hope they all die, what with the importance of maintaining balance in the ocean’s ecosystem. At least it’s a little easier to avoid the toothsome creatures than it is to never walk down a set of stairs — the other phobia Trump has been rumored to have.
If this latest gossip is true, he is among many other celebrities and politicians to have their deep-seated, if not necessarily rational, fears exposed.
American Horror Story: Cult introduced some of us to the concept of trypophobia, the fear of small holes, but that was nothing new to Kendall Jenner. “Anyone who knows me knows that I have really bad trypophobia,” she said on her app in 2016. “Things that could set me off are pancakes, honeycomb or lotus heads (the worst!). It sounds ridiculous but so many people actually have it! I can’t even look at little holes — it gives me the worst anxiety. Who knows what’s in there???”
Her sister Kylie Jenner, meanwhile, is frightened of butterflies. “It’s kind of ironic, ’cause I’m terrified — terrified — of butterflies,” she said on Life of Kylie last year. “This is how I think of them: Cut the wings off, and if you just look at their bodies, they’re not that pretty.”
Harry Styles admitted on Twitter years ago two of his fears, which are a bit more common than the Jenner sisters’: “Scared of the dark and the dentist,” he wrote. One survey in the U.K. found that 40 percent of respondents were also afraid of the dark, which some link to the evolutionary avoidance of large predators. Another survey showed that 22 percent of Americans don’t go to the dentist because they’re afraid.
Barack Obama famously urged this country to reject “the politics of fear” last year, but he also has admitted to being scared of one thing when he was in office: creepy snowmen that decorated a hall in the White House during his last Christmas there. “There’s a whole kind of Chucky element to them,” he told People. When Michelle Obama joked they should put one in the bedroom, he said, “If I see one of those snowmen in my bedroom, I’m moving.”
Richard Nixon’s own phobia was a little more problematic healthwise. The 37th president was said to be afraid of hospitals, a fear called nosocomephobia. That’s not quite as scary as George Washington’s fear of being buried alive (taphephobia), which he expressed on his deathbed when requesting he not be put in the vault less than three days after his death.
Finally, were Oprah Winfrey to fulfill many fans’ hopes and run for the country’s highest office, she’d add a new odd aversion to this presidential list. She has admitted that she’s scared of chewing gum.
“In Mississippi, my grandmother used to chew gum, then stick it in the cabinet,” she told Jamie Foxx in an interview for O magazine. “There were rows and rows of Juicy Fruit and Spearmint. I was afraid of it. Even now, I don’t allow gum in the building where I work.”
Banning gum from the White House sounds almost as difficult to accomplish as ridding the Earth of sharks.
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