Snopes has fact-checked numerous statements by U.S. President Donald Trump over the years, but one in particular had stumped many journalists since 2016. Since he became president that year, Trump claimed numerous times that he was presented with a Man of the Year award by the state of Michigan a few years before he ran.
We looked into whether such an award existed, and if Trump actually was a recipient. No journalist or news organization has ever found this to be the case.
Trump had told versions of this story since first bringing it up at a campaign rally in 2016. In August 2019, at a rally in New Hampshire, he even expressed confusion about receiving the award, saying, “I didn’t even understand it myself, but I was named Man of the Year.” On May 20, 2020, in a meeting with Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson and Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, Trump repeated the claim, saying:
Michigan is a great state. I’ve gotten tremendous business to go to Michigan. Michigan is one of the reasons I ran. I was honored in Michigan long before I thought about — I was honored as the Man of the Year in Michigan at a big event.
And I got up — and I remember so well. I spoke — probably just five, six years before I even thought about running for President. And I got up and I spoke and I said, “Why are you allowing them to steal your car business?” You know, we lost 32 percent of our car business to Mexico, and a lot of it came out of Michigan.
Back in 2016, The Huffington Post dove into the claim, and found no evidence of such an award existing in Michigan, including from the Michigan Chamber of Commerce. The Detroit News runs an annual list of Michiganians of the Year, but Trump wasn’t on it. We reached out to them and a spokesperson confirmed to us that the winner must be from Michigan. They said:
The Detroit News does not award a Man of the Year honor. Our award, Michiganian of the Year, is picked from a selection of outstanding citizens who have helped make living in this state a richer experience for the rest of us, either by their good works or by the example they set [...] President Trump has never been a Michiganian of the Year.
Former Republican Congressman Dave Trott told CNN in 2019 that Trump's claim originated from a 2013 event that Trott invited him to. But Trott added that there was no award presented to Trump at that particular dinner.
The president has received similar accolades, however.
CNN pointed out that Trump made a version of this claim in May 2020 after falsely stating that Michigan’s secretary of state sent absentee ballots to all voters and had broken the law. (She had, in fact, sent ballot applications).
Given that multiple news organizations tried and failed to find proof of Michigan’s so-called Man of the Year award in the years since Trump first started making this claim, we rate this claim as "False."