For most of his career, Guy Fieri has managed to keep his brand relatively apolitical. Now that he’s been photographed with Donald Trump, however, the bleach-tipped celebrity chef might be starting to feel the heat.
On Saturday, Fieri was photographed meeting the recently indicted former president at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas during UFC 290. NBC News reports that the two chatted at the mixed martial arts event, where Trump was also spotted talking to Mel Gibson and Mark Wahlberg. Turning Point USA creative director Benny Johnson tweeted out a photo of Fieri and Trump together on Sunday, writing, “2024 unity ticket.”
Fieri’s face is not visible enough in the photos to gauge his expression, but he can be seen facing Trump with his hand on the former president’s arm. Representatives for Fieri and Discovery, whose networks carry Fieri’s series, did not immediately respond to The Daily Beast’s request for comment.
Unsurprisingly, the Trump photo has set Flavortown on fire. Sideways glances now abound on Twitter, including from the viral account Pop Crave, which shared the photo with the coy caption, “Guy Fieri greeting criminal defendant Donald Trump at UFC 290 in Las Vegas.” Meanwhile, White Stripes frontman Jack White shared photos of Fieri and other celebrities who reportedly met with Trump at UFC and called them all “disgusting.”
“Anybody who ‘normalizes’ or treats this disgusting fascist, racist, con man, disgusting piece of shit Trump with any level of respect is ALSO disgusting in my book,” White wrote on Instagram. “That’s you Joe Rogan, you Mel Gibson, you Mark Wahlberg, you Guy Fieri. This is a statement from me, not a discussion/debate.”
The ire surrounding Fieri feels like an echo of something we saw before, when Ellen DeGeneres was photographed palling around with former President George W. Bush at a Dallas Cowboys game in 2019. Then, like now, a relatively benign celebrity’s politics have been thrust into the limelight, replacing fans’ blissful, comforting ignorance with skepticism.
The controversy over Fieri’s photo opp has also resurfaced some of his past controversies. In 2021, the AV Club documented the Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives host’s rise as a modern folk hero thanks to his fundraising efforts during the pandemic. At the same time, writer Matt Schimkowitz pointed out, Fieri remains a “political Rorschach test” who skirts direct questions about his personal views.