Oculus co-founder Palmer Luckey has been funding an organization dedicated to posting memes in support of Donald Trump in his campaign for president. Nimble America, a self-described “social welfare 501(c)4 non-profit,” announced itself on the promise that “meme magic is real.”
The 24-year-old millionaire confirmed to The Daily Beast that he has been financially backing the group and posting on its behalf on Reddit using the organization-provided pseudonym “NimbleRichMan.” Thus far, the group’s biggest accomplishment has been a digital billboard outside of Pittsburgh depicting a distorted face of Hillary Clinton with the words “TOO BIG TO JAIL”.
“It’s something that no campaign is going to run,” Luckey told the Daily Beast regarding the billboard. “I’ve got plenty of money. Money is not my issue. I thought it sounded like a real jolly good time.” Luckey joined the wealthy elite when he sold Oculus to Facebook in 2014 for $2 billion. Forbes estimates his current net worth to be $700 million as the 26th richest American entrepreneur under 40.
“The American Revolution was funded by wealthy individuals,” Luckey wrote on Reddit as NimbleRichMan, which as subsequently been deleted. “The same has been true of many movements for freedom in history. You can’t fight the American elite without serious firepower. They will outspend you and destroy you by any and all means.”
Luckey first reached out to the group over Facebook, he explained to the Daily Beast: “It went along the lines of ‘hey, I have a bunch of money. I would love to see more of this stuff.’ They wanted to build buzz and do fundraising.” With Luckey’s support, Nimble America set out to raise funds from Reddit’s pro-Trump community, r/The_Donald. Luckey promised to match funds raised within 48 hours as an anonymous, wealthy benefactor, whose legitimacy was validated by his acquaintance Milo Yiannopoulos, the Breitbart tech editor and notorious alt-right commentator who made headlines recently when Twitter banned him for harassing Ghostbusters actor Leslie Jones.
Trump’s Reddit community was skeptical, however, posting responses like “Get this crap off the page. The_donald doesn’t ask for contributions. Forget about that,” and “NO NO NO NO STOP SHILLING. DON’T BECOME WHAT WE’RE FIGHTING. SERIOUSLY.” They were particularly resistant to the idea of their benefactor being “an obscenely wealthy self-made man who prefers to remain anonymous,” as Nimble America posted in a thread attempting to explain the fumble. “We had a trusted third party, Milo, get to know our wealthy benefactor and he agreed to vouch for him.” Yiannopoulos’ reassurance was insufficient, however, leading Luckey to out himself through The Daily Beast.
Although never this overtly political until now, Luckey previously hinted at his conservative inclination in social media posts, such as a tweet praising the late justice Antonin Scalia.
"We are indebted to Justice Scalia for so eloquently defending the rights of creators and consumer everywhere." https://t.co/8HNlXPEpp4
— Palmer Luckey (@PalmerLuckey) February 15, 2016
Nimble America co-founder and r/The_Donald moderator Dustin Ward told The Daily Beast, “We’re purchasing billboard space near the site of the first debate, to run simultaneously and promote a candidate we feel represents our interests.” Since this story has come to light, posts related to Nimble America on Reddit have started to disappear, leaving its fate somewhat unclear.
For his part, Luckey is still ostensibly on board, but has hedged his bets somewhat, telling The Daily Beast, “I’m not going to keep throwing money after something if I don’t see any results.” He admitted the fundraising push was poorly executed, but stood by the groups intentions: “I think these guys are pretty legit. The sums of money are so small, I don’t think they’re out to scam anybody. If they disappear with the money, I wouldn’t throw any more money at them.”