Dolly Parton Turned Down Presidential Medal Of Freedom From Trump Twice

UNSPECIFIED - DECEMBER 10: In this screengrab released on December 10, Dolly Parton performs during the Billboard Women In Music 2020 event on December 10, 2020. (Photo by 2020 Billboard Women In Music/Getty Images for Billboard)
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February 2, 2021 9:00 a.m.

Country singer Dolly Parton recently revealed that she had turned down former President Donald Trump’s efforts to bestow on her the Presidential Medal of Freedom on two occasions.

During a TODAY show interview, the powerhouse performer and philanthropist said that she had rejected the former president’s advances when he tried to give her the nation’s highest civilian honor first due to her husband’s illness and then again because she refused to travel amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. 

“Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure,” Parton said, adding that she has since heard from President Joe Biden about the award. 

“I don’t work for those awards,” she said. “It’d be nice but I’m not sure that I even deserve it. But that’s a nice compliment for people to think that I might deserve it.”

The country-singing legend announced last April that she had donated $1 million to back the study of coronavirus at Vanderbilt University which ultimately helped fund research for what became Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. 

In an interview late last year, former President Barack Obama said he should have given the singer the prestigious award because she “deserves one.” 

“That’s a mistake. I’m shocked,” Obama said when asked during an interview with CBS’ Stephen Colbert how the singer had not received the award. “Actually, that was a screwup, I’m surprised. I think I assumed that she’d already got one and that was incorrect.”

He added that he planned to “call Biden,” about getting Parton the award.

The award was established to recognize individuals who have made an “especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, or world peace, or cultural or other significant public or private endeavors.”

During his administration, Trump bestowed at least one musician with the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the late Elvis Presley.

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