'TikTok Grandma' Speaks out on Upending Trump's Rally Attendance

An Iowa grandmother who encouraged teens and young people to sign up for President Donald Trump's Tulsa, Oklahoma rally but not attend is speaking out after only an estimated 6,200 people attended the event. Speaking with CNN's Brian Stelter, 51-year-old Mary Jo Laupp, better known as the "TikTok Grandma" on social media, denied accusations that the incident was a prank, instead defending it as a powerful protest.

Laupp's viral fame was sparked on June 11, when she shared the clip, in which she criticized the rally's initial date of July 19, or Juneteenth, the day that marks the official end of slavery in the United States, as well as the location of Tulsa, the site of what is widely known as the "single worst incident of racial violence in American history." Laupp then encouraged viewers to reserve tickets for the rally. Doing so, as she said, would inflate interest in it, but ultimately leave thousands of empty seats when none of those people showed up.

According to Laupp, the video initially started as nothing more than "a frustrated rant." After learning of the president’' rally plans, which were later changed to June 20, she said that she educated herself "on Black Wall Street, and understood better why Black content creators on social media platforms were frustrated with the original plan for Juneteenth in Tulsa." She then filmed and posted the video.

Although she only had 1,000 followers at the time, and most of her videos had only been viewed a handful of times, that June 11 video quickly went viral and was viewed by thousands. Not long after, it was shared to Twitter, where is generated the support of not only other TikTok teens, but also K-pop fans, with Luapp joking that, "when they get involved you know it's getting serious." Speaking to Stelter, Luapp credited young people, stating they are "very aware, much more self aware when it comes to Black culture" and are "becoming much more aware of those marginalized communities, and learning to speak out about them."

Ultimately, estimated revealed that only 6,200 supporters attended the Saturday event, which had been expected to draw thousands more to not only fill, but overflow the 19,000-seat BOK Center. While Laupp acknowledged that she can''t be sure her video can take the full credit for the low turnout, she said that the movement her video prompted "created a huge sense of community" and "there are a lot of posts all over my social media saying: 'we did it.'" She said that the movement gave those who are not yet old enough to vote the "feel that they have a voice in our country, and this no-show protest was a way of making our voices heard."