Generally, it’s considered rather unprofessional to comment on someone’s looks rather than their actions or words, but it’s hard not to notice one very strange and unusual occurrence. Throughout the decades, Donald Trump skin pallor has turned from the normal white guy shade of beige to a color which is best represented by a pumpkin.
Now, the rings around his eyes pretty much prove that Trump either spends time in tanning beds or he is a fan of fake spray tans, either of which would involve tiny goggles. Well, according to a Mother Jones expose, it could be either, but that’s not the news. The news is why Trump seems to be such a fan of fake tans and it gives you a glimpse into the type of cronyism we could expect if Trump were to become president.
Trump is good friends with an Indiana businessman named Steve Hilbert. In 2006, Hilbert became the CEO of New Sunshine, a company that makes tanning beds, spray tanning booths, tanning lotions, and bronzers.
Trump and Hilbert have a lot in common. They are the same age. They are both rich. They both change wives about as often as Trump supporters change underwear (sorry) and they both have hideous, garish taste in decorating. Hilbert, when he was an insurance CEO, was one of the country’s highest paid and he even helicoptered to work – a whole two miles.
The businessman reportedly met his sixth and current wife in the early 1990s, when she jumped topless out of a cake at a party for one of his stepsons. The cake story may be apocryphal, but Tomisue Hilbert, who is the same age as Melania, was indeed a 23-year-old topless dancer and a single mother when she married Steve.
The Hilberts once lived in a three-story, 23,000 square-foot faux-French mansion dubbed Le Chateau Renaissance, which was located on a 33-acre compound outside Indianapolis that included a 15,000-square-foot “sports barn” with a full-size reproduction of the Indiana University basketball court. The mansion, once valued at $25 million, featured Trumpesque gold-plated bathroom fixtures and French crystal chandeliers. Hand-painted murals adorned a dome above the entryway, including one depicting a toga-clad Steve Hilbert as an ancient deity.
The men had been friends for nearly 20 years when they entered into a business deal together. They bought the General Motors Building in Manhattan for $800 million. Hilbert put up far more money than Trump did ($200 million vs. $11 million plus there was a third partner) but somehow, Trump received a 50 percent interest in the building. He also put his name on the building.
The two men, along with their wives du jour, also socialize together. They stay in each other’s vacation homes. They attend each other’s multiple weddings.
After a disastrous departure from his company, Conseco, Hilbert started the tanning business. While Mother Jones doesn’t know for sure that Trump uses his products, they do say this:
This is also around the time that Trump started to turn orange. Did the Hilberts get Trump into tanning? Does he use New Sunshine spray tans or tanning bed bronzers? (Reviewers have suggested that turning orange—a “rich shade of burnt orange,” in the words of one—can be a distinct side effect of using such products.) The Trump campaign did not respond to questions about whether Trump used New Sunshine tanning products. Questions sent by email and FedEx to Hilbert’s Indiana home went unanswered. It’s clear, though, that Trump is familiar with New Sunshine’s wares. He promoted the company’s tanning products on The Celebrity Apprentice in two episodes.
There’s more to the story, which includes some pretty shady business deals, but at least we might now know why Trump is that awful shade of orange.
Featured image via John Sommers II/Getty Images