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    Is Donald Trump’s Truth Social headed to Wall Street? It comes down to a Friday vote

    NEW YORK (AP) — Donald Trump’s return to the stock market could be right around the corner.

    All eyes are on a vote scheduled for Friday by shareholders of Digital World Acquisition Corp., a publicly traded shell company that is looking to merge with the former president’s media business. The deal’s approval would open the door for Trump Media & Technology Group, whose flagship product is the social networking site Truth Social, to soon begin trading on the Nasdaq stock market in Digital World’s place.

    If the merger is greenlit, which is likely, Trump stands to receive a sizeable payout. He would own most of the combined company — or nearly 79 million shares. Multiply that by Digital World’s current stock price of more $42, and the total value of Trump’s stake could surpass $3 billion.

    The prospect of the deal arrives at a time the presumptive Republican presidential nominee is facing his most costly legal battle to date: a $454 million judgment in a fraud lawsuit.

    But even if the Digital World merger is approved Friday, Trump wouldn’t be able to immediately cash out his windfall, unless some things change, due to a “lock-up” provision that prevents company insiders from selling newly issued shares for six months.

    Trump’s earlier foray into the stock market didn’t end well. Trump Hotels and Casino Resorts went public in 1995 under the symbol DJT — the same symbol Trump Media will trade under. By 2004, Trump’s casino company had filed for bankruptcy protection and was delisted from the New York Stock Exchange.

    Digital World listed many of the risks its investors face, as well as those of the Truth Social owner, if Trump Media also goes public.

    One risk, the company said, is that Trump would be entitled to vote in his own interest as a controlling stockholder — which may not always be in the interests of all shareholders. Digital World also cited the high rate of failure for new social media platforms, as well as Trump Media’s expectation that it would lose money on its operations “for the foreseeable future.”

    Trump Media lost $49 million in the first nine months of last year, when it brought in just $3.4 million in revenue and had to pay $37.7 million in interest expenses.

    Trump Media and Digital World first announced their merger plans in October 2021. In addition to a federal probe, the deal has faced a series of lawsuits leading up to Friday’s vote.

    Truth Social launched in February 2022, one year after Trump was banned from major social platforms including Facebook and Twitter, the platform now known as X, following the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He’s since been reinstated to both but has stuck with Truth Social as a megaphone for his message.

    Trump promoted Truth Social in a post on the social media network Thursday evening, saying: “TRUTH SOCIAL IS MY VOICE, AND THE REAL VOICE OF AMERICA!!! MAGA2024!!!”

    Trump Media doesn’t disclose Truth Social’s user numbers. But research firm Similarweb estimates that it had roughly 5 million active mobile and web users in February. That’s far below TikTok’s more than 2 billion and Facebook’s 3 billion — but still higher than rivals like Parler, which has been offline for nearly a year but is planning a comeback, or Gettr, which had less than 2 million visitors in February.

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