Travis Scott Wasted No Time Putting His Mug Shot on a T-Shirt

After a night of partying in South Florida, the superstar rapper Travis Scott ended his Thursday with two more charges on his record and one more product on his website than he started with.

An established swag king who’s no stranger to brand deals, Mr. Scott, 33, turned a spotlight on what many would consider an embarrassing moment when he started selling T-shirts featuring his mug shot, just hours after his arrest in Miami Beach. The new merchandise reinforced the idea that for certain celebrities and politicians, brushes with the law can be easily recast as lucrative business opportunities.

The rapper made headlines after the police responded shortly before 2 a.m. on Thursday to reports of a fight aboard a yacht docked at a marina. Mr. Scott was charged with trespassing and disorderly intoxication and then released on bond after paying a total of $650 on both charges, according to local news outlets.

Mr. Scott, whose real name is Jacques Bermon Webster II, later admitted he had been drinking alcohol. “It’s Miami,” he was quoted as saying in the police report.

That same phrase, along with his mug shot — altered from the much more stoic original to include a broad, movie-star smile — had landed by day’s end on a dark T-shirt selling for $35 on his website.

Credit…Miami-Dade County Corrections and Rehabilitation

The “Free the Rage Tee #2” will ship in one week, according to the website, and $5 from each sale will be donated to the Cactus Jack Foundation, Mr. Scott’s nonprofit organization. As of Friday afternoon, the T-shirt was no longer available for purchase on his website.

This wasn’t a first for Mr. Scott. He briefly sold a shirt featuring a mug shot from an earlier arrest, in 2017, when he was charged with inciting a riot at his concert. He later pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct. Rare, used versions of the tee are currently on resale for $175 at the online marketplace Grailed.

In 2021, at the Astroworld music festival in Houston, at least 10 people were killed and hundreds more were injured at Mr. Scott’s concert after the crowd began pushing toward the front of the stage. Mr. Scott, who founded the festival, did not face criminal charges for his role in the event.

A representative for Mr. Scott did not immediately respond to emailed questions on Friday. (In a previous statement, a lawyer for Mr. Scott made light of his client’s brief detention, saying it was “due to a misunderstanding.”)

There is a playbook for commodifying arrests and court appearances, one by which famous people, and on occasion their fans, turn potentially embarrassing evidence of run-ins with the law into products that can be worn, eaten off of or sipped out of.

Last year, after former President Donald J. Trump’s fourth indictment, the release of his mug shot — the first for an American president — presented a marketing opportunity. The Trump campaign and its supporters wasted no time plastering the picture on a variety of merchandise, including shirts, pins, mugs and shot glasses.

Then there’s trial merch. In the court case over Britney Spears’s conservatorship, the hashtag #FreeBritney popped up on coffee mugs and shirts. Gwyneth Paltrow’s ski crash trial in Park City, Utah, last year, in which she was found not at fault, inspired clothing that featured the word “Gwynnocent” or the actress’s most indelible quote from the trial, referring to her own hardships: “Well, I lost half a day of skiing.”

Anna Sorokin, the fake heiress known as Anna Delvey, appeared on personalized products at the height of her fame. And Jen Shah, the star of “The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City” who went to prison after pleading guilty to participating in a fraudulent telemarketing scheme, sold T-shirts inspired by her case.

Mug shots and court photos become lasting icons of shame and embarrassment or defiant pride for some celebrities: Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, Frank Sinatra. And they embody a cool factor that can even win praise from fans. Mr. Scott — who is also an ex-boyfriend of the reality TV star and cosmetics mogul Kylie Jenner, with whom he shares two children — seems to know this well.

But his wasn’t the only high-profile mug shot this week: Shortly after Justin Timberlake was arrested early Tuesday morning in Sag Harbor, N.Y., on suspicion of driving while intoxicated, a scruffy booking photo of the pop star began to circulate online. It remains to be seen what the world — and the star himself — will make of it.

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