A woman who gained internet fame for nodding and giving President Donald Trump the thumbs up sign during his Miami town hall on Thursday night could have used the free airtime two years ago — because she was running for Congress as a pro-Trump candidate.
Mayra Joli, an immigration attorney and pro-Trump activist who once declared herself Miami’s “master of selfies” during her 2018 campaign, was seated behind the president during his hour-long town hall. After the event, she greeted the president, according to a video posted to her Facebook page.
“We have your back! You see, you see you are the best,” Joli said to Trump shortly after the event finished.
“Where are you from?” Trump replied.
“I’m from the Dominican Republic, but I’m American, I’m an American,” Joli said.
“Hey, Sammy Sosa?” Trump said, referring to the Dominican-born former Chicago Cubs baseball player while mimicking a baseball swing.
Joli informed Trump that Sosa endorsed her 2018 congressional race, where she garnered 2.5% of the vote as an independent in Florida’s 27th Congressional District. Democrat Donna Shalala won the 2018 race over Joli and Republican Maria Elvira Salazar.
“I appreciate all the support,” Trump said.
Another attendee next to Joli shouted “Brazilians for Trump” in Joli’s video.
Joli did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
A spokesperson for NBC did not respond to a request for comment on whether or not the network determined who could attend the event. The town hall event was billed as a conversation with undecided voters, though many of the questioners introduced by moderator Savannah Guthrie were already leaning toward voting for Trump or Democratic nominee Joe Biden. Joli did not ask a question during the event.
Joli is a Brickell-based immigration attorney and five-time beauty queen who dabbles as a pundit on Spanish-language television. She’s also a fervent Trump supporter and frequently posts about him on Facebook. Joli said Trump was the inspiration behind her 2018 congressional campaign.
“I am not looking to run because I need a paycheck, like Donald Trump. I’m not looking to run because I need fame, like Donald Trump. I’m running because I need this country to succeed,” Joli said. “Like Donald Trump, I don’t drink.”