What do Mother Teresa, Al Capone, Elvis and Jesus have in common? Trump has compared himself to all of them

Donald Trump has compared himself to a dizzying array of historical figures from Mother Teresa and Abraham Lincoln to Elvis and Jesus (Credit: Melissa Cross)  (Getty)
Donald Trump has compared himself to a dizzying array of historical figures from Mother Teresa and Abraham Lincoln to Elvis and Jesus (Credit: Melissa Cross) (Getty)

Donald Trump’s inflated sense of his own importance should not be news to anybody at this point but the sheer scale of the presumptive Republican presidential candidate’s self-regard remains a wonder to behold.

Not content with bragging about being so popular he could literally get away with murder, taking credit for the shape of the New York City skyline or claiming that the wars in Ukraine and Gaza would simply not have happened if he had remained in the White House, Trump appears to think of himself in ever-grander terms.

Prior to being found guilty of paying off a porn star, Trump left the Manhattan courthouse where his hush trial was playing out on Wednesday and compared himself to Mother Teresa, insisting that not even she “could beat these charges”.

Why the legendary Catholic nun and humanitarian might need to silence Stormy Daniels is beside the point – the episode was just the latest example of the former president comparing himself to an iconic figure of global significance, from American presidents and rock and roll stars to notorious mobsters.

Below, we take a look at some of the famous figures Trump has improbably likened himself to, from Nelson Mandela to Al Capone.

Nelson Mandela

Before Saint Teresa of Calcutta, Trump compared himself to the late South African anti-Apartheid icon in April, a man who spent 27 years in jail as part of his fight for equality.

Shamelessly, the former president claimed to see similarities between Mandela’s struggle and the gag order imposed on him by Judge Juan Merchan in his hush money case.

Nelson Mandela, the legendary anti-apartheid leader, soon after his release from jail in 1990 (AFP/Getty)
Nelson Mandela, the legendary anti-apartheid leader, soon after his release from jail in 1990 (AFP/Getty)

“If this Partisan Hack wants to put me in the ‘clink’ for speaking the open and obvious TRUTH, I will gladly become a Modern Day Nelson Mandela - It will be my GREAT HONOR,” Trump posted on Truth Social.

According to Trump’s former fixer Michael Cohen, the Republican presidential candidate was not always such an admirer of Mandela.

In his 2020 memoir Disloyal, Cohen wrote that Trump once said of the South African leader: “Mandela f***ed the whole country up. Now it’s a s**hole. F*** Mandela. He was no leader.”

Jesus Christ

Trump has long nurtured a Messiah Complex and frequently encourages parallels between himself and Jesus when courting the votes of the Christian evangelical crowd.

The AI image Donald Trump posted of a mock court sketch, in which Jesus Christ sits alongside him (Dom Lucre/X)
The AI image Donald Trump posted of a mock court sketch, in which Jesus Christ sits alongside him (Dom Lucre/X)

In March, he reposted a message from a follower on Truth Social, who had expressed sympathy for Trump’s legal troubles that read: “It’s ironic that Christ walked through His greatest persecution the very week they are trying to steal your property from you.”

In 2023, he also suggested that, other than himself, only Christ could have secured the votes needed to become speaker of the House of Representatives and posted an AI image, created by another supporter, of Jesus sitting beside him in court.

The Mona Lisa

During an interview with the Welsh TV channel S4C at Mar-a-Lago last June, Trump likened himself to Leonardo Da Vinci’s world-famous Renaissance portrait as he talked up the devotion of the MAGA fans who turn up to his rallies.

“The Front Row Joes get it and they see it,” he said, alluding to the regulars at his events and their ability to “see” his qualities.

“You have people that follow the rock bands, and they listen to the same songs over and over. You have people that go to the Mona Lisa and they will see it hundreds and hundreds of times and it gets better every time. And Broadway plays and they will see it 20 times.”

Elvis Presley

Trump posted a composite image eerily merging his face with that of the King of Rock n’ Roll on Truth Social in February.

“For so many years people have been saying that Elvis and I look alike. Now this pic has been going all over the place. What do you think?” he asked his followers.

Trump’s question was met with ridicule, not least from late-night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel, who quipped during his show a day later: “I think you’ve embarrassed yourself again.”

A less disturbing composite image of Donald Trump and Elvis Presley than the version he placed on Truth Social (Getty)
A less disturbing composite image of Donald Trump and Elvis Presley than the version he placed on Truth Social (Getty)

Kimmel did find some points of comparison between the duo, however: “They both have amazing heads of hair, they both live in a lavish southern estate... and they both have their own trademark dance moves.”

The TV star also noted that both men were “totally under the control and influence of The Colonel”, cutting to a photo of Trump eating KFC on his private jet.

“The only thing Donald Trump has in common with Elvis is that he too will die on the toilet, eating an Arby’s beef and cheddar, with a fried banana on it,” he concluded.

Al Capone

At this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference in February, Trump drew a parallel between himself and the infamous Prohibition-era Chicago mob boss.

“Remember this, I’ve been indicted more times than Alphonse Capone, Scarface,” he said at the Republican gathering, relishing the gory details of the gangster’s reputation.

Gangster Al Capone circa 1930 (Getty)
Gangster Al Capone circa 1930 (Getty)

“If he had dinner with you and he didn’t like the smile on your face – thought you were mocking him by smiling – you would be dead before you went home and said hello to your wife.”

Trump isn’t the only person to have made the Capone comparison, incidentally.

In 2020, his biographer Timothy O’Brien, compared him to the crimelord when talking about the possibility of former Trump Organization CFO Allen Weisselberg turning on his old paymaster.

“Al Capone ultimately went down because they got his accountant... and the accountant is the one who showed federal investigators how Capone’s organizations were cooking his books,” O’Brien told MSNBC.

Weisselberg is currently serving his second stint in Rikers Island prison, most recently for perjuring himself on Trump’s behalf.

Sir Winston Churchill

Speaking at a rally in Michigan in September 2020, Trump denied reports that he had deliberately downplayed the threat of Covid-19 in the early days of the pandemic – and likened himself to the wartime British prime minister as justification.

“As the British government advised the British people in the face of World War II, ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. That’s what I did,” Trump told his audience.

“When Hitler was bombing, I don’t know if you know this, when Hitler was bombing London, Churchill, great leader, would oftentimes go to a roof in London and speak.”

Sir Winston Churchill (PA)
Sir Winston Churchill (PA)

He continued: “And he always spoke with calmness. He said we have to show calmness. No, we did it the right way and we’ve done a job like nobody.”

It’s possible that Trump got the idea of the Churchill comparison from journalist Piers Morgan, who once gave the former president a replica of Churchill’s signature Homburg hat during a particularly toadying interview in June 2019.

The Trump 2024 campaign’s director of communications Liz Harrington would later be ridiculed for sharing the cover of American Spectator magazine on social media on which her boss was hailed as “The New Churchill”.

George Washington

In July 2023, Trump posted an AI-generated image of himself in place of George Washington leading the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War.

The post came in response to the United States celebrating the 247th anniversary of its independence from Great Britain but only succeeded in inviting a deluge of mockery online.

“He would have sold us out faster than Benedict Arnold did,” one user wrote, a cutting reference to the major-general who betrayed the revolutionary cause to support the British.

Abraham Lincoln

Shortly before Election Day 2020, Trump improbably claimed at a campaign rally in Pennsylvania that he had “always competed” against Honest Abe.

“You know we’re the party of Abraham Lincoln, a lot of people don’t know that. The great Abraham Lincoln, a man that I’ve always competed against,” Trump said.

Abraham Lincoln (Getty)
Abraham Lincoln (Getty)

“I said, ‘I can be more presidential than any president ever, except for the possible exception of Abraham Lincoln when he’s wearing the hat’.”

Trump made the comparison again earlier this year in even more jaw-dropping fashion.

During a campaign stop at a Chick-Fil-A restaurant in Georgia, he claimed that he had done more for Black Americans than Lincoln, who signed the 1863 Emancipation Proclamation that freed the slaves.

“I’ve done more for the people of Atlanta than any other president by far,” he claimed.

“I’ve done more for the Black community than any other president since Abraham Lincoln – and maybe including Abraham Lincoln, frankly.”

Ronald Reagan

Trump has excused his former political alliance to the Democratic Party by comparing himself to the Hollywood actor who became America’s 40th president.

“If you look at Ronald Reagan, and he was a Democrat, he was actually, Don, he was a Democrat with a very liberal, or at least a pretty liberal bent, and he became a Republican with a somewhat conservative – I wouldn’t say very, but he was a conservative Republican,” Trump told CNN’s Don Lemon in September 2015.

Ronald Reagan (AP)
Ronald Reagan (AP)

After journalist Michael Wolff’s unflattering book, Fire and Fury, was published in 2018, Trump also invoked Reagan in an social media rant.

Tweeting angrily about “fake news”, he declared: “Ronald Reagan had the same problem and handled it well. So will I!”

Two years later, however, he was rather less keen on the parallel after the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute complained about Trump using his predecessor’s image on commemorative Reagan-Trump coins, an underrated grift from the man who has more recently offered up personalised Bibles, cologne and golden sneakers.