When pop star Ariana Grande licked donuts on an exposed tray at a California donut shop last year and said she “hates America,” she didn’t just ruin her reputation — she also lost an opportunity to perform in front of President Obama at a White House gala.
An email from the trove of more than 19,000 documents leaked as part of WikiLeaks’ #DNCLeaks hack revealed that White House staffers vetted Grande for a gala performance for the president but ultimately turned her down over the “DonutGate” scandal.
On July 4 last year, the 23-year-old pop star visited Wolfee Donuts in Lake Elsinore, California, and, while the shop’s employees had their backs turned, proceeded to lick donuts left on a tray on the countertop while remarking, “I hate Americans. I hate America.”
In a September 2015 email unearthed by Gawker, DNC Finance Chair Zachary Allen asked White House staffers to “vet” Grande for a possible performance at a White House gala. After a comprehensive vetting process that included news clippings about the incident, White House staffer Bobby Schmuck simply wrote back, “Nope, sorry.”
“Ariana Butera-video caught her licking other peoples’ donuts while saying she hates America; Republican Congressman used this video and said it was a double standard that liberals were not upset with her like they are with Trump who criticized Mexicans; cursed out a person on Twitter after that person used an offensive word towards her brother,” Deputy Compliance Director Kevin Snowden wrote in a summary of Grande’s behavior.
The White House gig wasn’t the only concert opportunity Grande lost out on after the donut-licking incident became national news. The pop star was also ousted from last year’s All-Star game, replaced by fellow pop singer Demi Lovato.
The public’s opinion of Grande also took a massive hit; according to the Hollywood Reporter, between 2013 and 2015, only Bill Cosby’s public image took a greater nosedive than Grande’s. Cosby has fended off allegations of rape and sexual assault from dozens of women over the past two years.
Follow Daniel Nussbaum on Twitter: @dznussbaum