CINCINNATI -- As he warmed up his audience on Thursday, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump marveled at the size of the crowd gathered at U.S. Bank Arena.
“Twenty-one thousand people tonight. Can you believe it? Twenty-one thousand people,” Trump told the crowd. “And you’ve got 7,000 people outside trying to get in, but they’re not going to make it.”
Trump has a reputation for valuing the size of the crowds he draws, and his supporters often point to well-attended rallies as evidence that he’s ahead.
But no one can seem to agree on how many people actually turned out for the Thursday rally.
Wall Street Journal reporter Reid Epstein didn't think the number Trump mentioned was quite right.
"21,000 people, can you believe this," Trump says, in a 17,500-seat arena in Cincinnati that is not full.
— Reid J. Epstein (@reidepstein) October 13, 2016
As Trump began his speech, many of the upper-level seats behind where the stage was located were empty.
— Libby Cunningham (@WCPOLibby) October 13, 2016
It's not the first time Trump has been accused of inflating attendance figures. Politico’s Ben Schreckinger wrote as much in a September 2015 article about Trump’s focus on rally attendance numbers.
U.S. Bank Arena spokesman Sean Lynn said it’s arena policy not to comment on attendance figures for events where the venue was rented by a third party.
When asked how the arena’s capacity differed when configured for different types of events -- hockey games, concerts, theater performances -- Lynn said the questions “don’t really have a definitive answer.”
“Every setup is different based on different factors,” Lynn said in an email. “Size of stage, production placement, press placement all play into a total capacity.”
Trump’s running mate, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, gave another estimate of the Cincinnati rally during a television appearance Friday morning.
“As I travel around the country, quite honestly, in Pennsylvania yesterday, the 19,000 people that were campaigning with Donald Trump last night [in Cincinnati], they’re focused on the issues at their kitchen table,” Pence told CBS This Morning.
The Hamilton County and national Trump campaigns did not respond to requests for comment.