Dolly Parton says she turned down Trump’s offer of the Presidential Medal of Freedom – twice

Dolly Parton
The Biden administration has also reached out to Parton about the Medal of Freedom but she told The Today Show she doesn’t want to be perceived as “doing politics.”

  • The country music legend told The Today Show that Trump offered her the Presidential Medal of Freedom twice. 
  • Both times she turned it down, citing family illness and COVID.
  • The Biden administration has also approached her about the award, but she said she didn’t want to be perceived as “doing politics.”
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Dolly Parton revealed to The Today Show that she was offered the Presidential Medal of Freedom by former President Donald Trump on two separate occasions but had to beg off both times.

“I couldn’t accept it because my husband was ill and then they asked me again about it and I wouldn’t travel because of the COVID,” she told host Hoda Kotb.

Parton is much beloved for both her musical career and the many charity projects she’s undertaken in recent years. In November, she donated $1 million to Vanderbilt University to support coronavirus vaccine research. She previously gave $1 million to Vanderbilt to help fund its Monroe Carell Jr. Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital.

Perhaps her best-known charity project is her Imagination Library, a charity she founded in 1990 that provides one free book a month to children from birth until adulthood. In the early months of the pandemic, she used the Imagination Library platform to read bedtime stories to kids who were out of school. 

Trump isn’t the only president hoping to offer Parton a Medal of Freedom. The eight-time Grammy winner told Today that the new administration has reached out to her, but that she was worried about how receiving the award from Biden might be perceived.

“Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure,” she said. 

In a 2020 Stephen Colbert interview with former President Barack Obama, Obama said it was a “mistake” that his office hadn’t offered Parton the honor. 

The Presidential Medal of Freedom was established in 1945 and is the country’s highest civilian honor. It is awarded for “especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors,” according to the National Archives

Trump handed out 24 Presidential Medals of Freedom during his term, though the late Elvis Presley was the only other musician to receive one. Rush Limbaugh, Tiger Woods, and Sen. Jim Jordan were among those honored by the former president. 

New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick was also offered the award but turned it down following the January 6 insurrection at the Capitol.   

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Stella Parton, whose sister Dolly donated $1 million to vaccine research, slammed ‘old moldy politicians’ for getting vaccinated before vulnerable Americans

HOLLYWOOD, CA - DECEMBER 02: Dolly Parton and Stella Parton attend the premiere of "Dolly Parton's Coat Of Many Colors" at the Egyptian Theatre on December 2, 2015 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Dolly and Stella Parton in 2015.

  • Dolly Parton’s younger sister, Stella, admonished US politicians for not donating to vaccine research and getting inoculated before vulnerable Americans.
  • Dolly Parton revealed in April that she had donated $1 million to coronavirus vaccine research. That research culminated in the Moderna vaccine, which was authorized for emergency use in the US last Friday.
  • On Friday, American politicians including Vice President Mike Pence, Sen. Mitch McConnell, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi started getting vaccinated. They received the Pfizer shot.
  • In a Saturday tweet, Stella Parton wrote: “If a little Hillbilly singer like my big sister Dolly can invest in the vaccine then why the hell can’t some of you old moldy politicians pitch in a few million yourselves?”
  • “I noticed you started getting vaccinated right away while people are starving and dying you Aholes,” she added.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Stella Parton, the younger sister of country music star Dolly Parton, slammed “old moldy politicians” for not donating to vaccine research and getting vaccinated ahead of vulnerable Americans. 

On April 1, Dolly Parton posted on Instagram that she had donated $1 million to coronavirus vaccine research at Vanderbilt University, where scientists later developed a vaccine for the US biotech firm Moderna.

The Food and Drug Administration approved Moderna’s drug for emergency use last Friday, following its December 11 approval of a vaccine from Pfizer and BioNTech.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that frontline healthcare workers and care home residents get priority vaccine access.

However, a roster of US politicians have already received the vaccine already – a fact that didn’t sit well with Stella Parton.

“If a little Hillbilly singer like my big sister Dolly can invest in the vaccine then why the hell can’t some of you old moldy politicians pitch in a few million yourselves?” she tweeted on Saturday.

“I noticed you started getting vaccinated right away while people are starving and dying you Aholes.”

On Friday, Vice President Mike Pence, second lady Karen Pence, and Surgeon General Jerome Adams were given their first dose of the Pfizer vaccine live on TV.

Members of Congress including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell; Sens. Mitt Romney, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, and Edward Markey; and Reps. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Bobby Scott also received their first doses of the Pfizer vaccine as part of the continuity of governance plan.

On Sunday, the CDC said that more than 556,000 Americans had received a first vaccine shot. Both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines require two doses.

Parton also attacked leading evangelical personalities for not donating to vaccine research.

“I haven’t heard of one Televangelist donating one damn cent to the research fund but they sure can fleece the flock and try to cast out demons when they are possessed themselves!” she said.

As Insider’s Juliana Kaplan previously reported, Parton has been a philanthropist for years, recently raising money for those displaced by wildfire and donating 100 million books to the Library of Congress.

A number of other celebrities have donated funds to those hunting for a vaccine. For example, Rihanna donated $5 million to struggling nations and vaccine research projects through her Clara Lionel Foundation in March.

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