The Twitter speculation that the first lady has a body double appears to have surfaced in 2017
Does Melania Trump actually have a body double making official appearances with President Donald Trump? Some people on the internet still seem to think so — even though the White House previously called the idea “ridiculous.”
A creative hashtag, #FakeMelania, emerged in support of a conspiracy theory that the first lady, 48, has a body double who sometimes accompanies Mr. Trump, 72, to events and photo ops.
Though it appears to have first surfaced in 2017, the theory was reignited after the president visited Alabama on Friday to honor the victims of the tornado that killed 23 people.
A spokesperson for Mrs. Trump did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment, but her office has previously denied the claims, CNN reported in 2017.
“Once again, we find ourselves consumed with a ridiculous non-story when we could be talking about the work the first lady is doing on behalf of children, including the opioid crisis that is gripping our nation,” Stephanie Grisham, Mrs. Trump’s director of communications, told the outlet.
According to Vox, the speculation began that October, when a man named Joe Vargas posted a tweet that subsequently went viral. In the tweet, Vargas shared a video of the president speaking to reporters and claimed that he was standing next to a body double of Mrs. Trump.
“This is not Melania. To think they would go this far & try & make us think its her on TV is mind blowing,” he wrote, suggesting that the woman did not resemble the first lady.
The post has since garnered over 110,000 likes and 65,000 retweets, and other Twitter users have posted their own replies in support of the conspiracy theory.
“After seeing this clip over 20 times, I have to say, I wouldn’t be surprised if they used a Melania double,” one person said in October 2017.
Another posted a GIF that stated, “I BELIEVEEEEEEEEEEEE.”
The speculation resurfaced on Friday after some Internet users were convinced that a photo of the president and Mrs. Trump visiting a memorial to tornado victims in Alabama showed the “body double” and not the first lady.
“The recasting of Melania is the worst I’ve seen since they recast Aunt Viv in Fresh Prince,” one user wrote, while another referenced an Eminem song and asked the real Mrs. Trump to “please stand up.”
“I clicked on #FakeMelania against my better judgement and I have to say that it DOES NOT look like Melania,” one social media user admitted on Saturday. Another wrote alongside a GIF of Alice in Wonderland, “Me falling deeper and deeper into this #FakeMelania conspiracy.”
The speculation only continued after the president and Mrs. Trump flew to Florida after leaving Alabama. Referencing a video of the former model exiting the plane with Mr. Trump, one tweeter wrote, “I’m sorry, but there’s no way that’s Melania. This woman is walking and waving without Melania’s signature stiffness. #FakeMelania is REAL, people.”