Around 6,200 people attended President Trump's campaign rally at the BOK Center in Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Saturday night, well below the arena's capacity of roughly 19,000, according to the Tulsa Fire Department.
Andrew Little, the department's public information officer, said that a fire marshal recorded the tally at around 7:30 p.m., noting that the figure applied to scanned tickets from the event. The number did not account for members of the media, campaign staff and those in box suites.
A Trump campaign official said that 12,000 people went through metal detectors at the rally.
Trump's rally in Tulsa marked the first large campaign event he's held since the coronavirus outbreak upended everyday life in the U.S. in early March. Ahead of the event, Trump campaign officials said that hundreds of thousands of people had registered for tickets, boasting that it represented massive enthusiasm from his supporters.
Trump campaign manager Brad Parscale said that the sign-ups marked the "biggest data haul and rally signup of all time by 10x," adding that "Saturday is going to be amazing!" Trump had also hyped the event by tweeting that "almost One Million people" had requested tickets.
But observers noted that large swaths of seats remained empty in the upper levels as Trump took the stage to speak. The campaign also scrapped planned outdoor speeches from Trump and Vice President Pence after turnout appeared to miss expectations.
Trump campaign communications director Tim Murtaugh blamed the lower than expected turnout on the press and protesters, saying in a statement that they "attempted to frighten off the president's supporters." He also claimed that protesters blocked "access to metal detectors" at one point, "which prevented people from entering the rally."
Others, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), gave partial credit to teenage TikTok users and fans of Korean pop for the light turnout.
TikTok users and K-pop fans launched a coordinated effort to get people with no intention of attending the event to sign up for it anyway, according to The New York Times. The push resulted in thousands of users reportedly spreading the message through tweets and TikTok videos.
"You just got ROCKED by teens on TikTok who flooded the Trump campaign w/ fake ticket reservations & tricked you into believing a million people wanted your white supremacist open mic enough to pack an arena during COVID," Ocasio-Cortez said on Twitter in response to a tweet from Parscale about the rally.
"Shout out to Zoomers. Y’all make me so proud," she added.
Parscale later said in a statement that reporters "who wrote gleefully about TikTok and K-Pop fans - without contacting the campaign for comment - behaved unprofessionally and were willing dupes to the charade."