WASHINGTON — Question:
Is the White House selling COVID-19 Commemorative Coins for $100 to raise money for medical research?
No, the White House is not involved with the sale of these coins. They are being sold for $100 by a private company unaffiliated with the president or the White House.
White House Gift Shop Website (Private Company, unaffiliated with the White House)
Tony Giannini, CEO of Giannini Strategic LLC
Gift Shop Logo Trademark Application, United States Patent and Trademark office
When the posts started to spread online, they were met with a great deal of criticism from the public. Many wrote that this politicized the pandemic.
“This is really unbelievable,” wrote one person on Twitter. “60,000 dead and they are selling commemorative coins. No value for human life.”
Others put the blame on President Donald Trump and the White House.
“That is sick,” one user wrote. “Can this administration stoop any lower?”
But when the Verify Team dug into the facts, it became clear that these coins had nothing to do with Trump, the White House or even the federal government. They’re being sold by a private company, and the proceeds are going to charity.
The coins, which have an image of the virus on one side and an empty presidential podium on the other, are being sold for $100 on a private website. The money raised will be given to charity, it says.
“All costs of making or offering the coin are donated out-of-pocket by our CEO,” the website reads.
The Verify Team spoke with Tony Giannini, CEO of Giannini Strategic LLC, which has owned the gift shop since 2012. He said they have already sold approximately 1,000 coins, netting nearly $100,000.
"All proceeds, without a penny of deductions, will be donated to two entities with matching amounts by me, personally," he said. "These entities are Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center, with a donation of $100,000. And the Centers For Disease Control Foundation, with a donation of $100,000."
The website has created various other coins in the past, commemorating “historic moments” like the “Korea Peace Talks & Summit in Singapore” coin, the “United States Space Force Coin,” and the “President Donald J. Trump: Summit with Russia’s President Vladimir Putin” coin.
On the “About Us” page of the website, it’s explained that the entity that became this shop was first created in 1946, and was once located in the White House Basement. In 2012, ownership of the store was given to Giannini's company.
The website makes it clear that the coin is not made by the government, nor do proceeds go to the nation's coffers.
“No government funds or resources,” the site reads, ”direct or indirect, are ever used in the operations of the White House Gift Shop.”