Tomi Lahren stands firm in her values. The 28-year-old political Fox Nation commentator burst onto the scene with her quick-paced, conservative-based segment at One America News Network in 2014, skyrocketed to digital stardom with her ‘Final Thoughts’ and has never backed away from expressing her opinion. She has found herself at the center of debate amongst both sides of the legislative aisle on quite a few occasions and continues to be a polarizing personality. But she doesn’t concern herself with how others see her.
As someone who believes that she is one of the more prominent voices for the “forgotten Americans,” Lahren discovered early on that there were a lot of things that didn’t sit well with her about the mainstream media. As a result, she set out to speak up for the small town communities like that of her and her family. It was her goal if not to change the conversation, then to add to it. She is unapologetically herself, keeps her circle tight with people she respects and always finds room to enjoy the little things.
I received the opportunity to speak with Tomi about the root of her strong opinions, how she found her voice, what it’s like being on a Jay-Z track and the importance of eating chicken McNuggets after a night out drinking. Here is our conversation:
South Dakota to Sin City.
Grayson – Let’s start way back and go forward. You grew up as an only child in Rapid City, N.D. Now, I don’t know all that much about Rapid City, N.D. but I know that it’s in the heart of the midwest and it’s cold. Without siblings, you’ve said before that you had to entertain and take care of yourself a lot. What did you do for fun growing up?
Tomi – I am an only child, so I spent a lot of time with my parents, but I also spent a lot of time with adults. And so I never really went to a lot of birthday parties, I never did a lot of kid things other than with my family and with my cousins, but I always loved entertaining. I always loved being the center of attention no matter where I was. I often entertained myself by making home videos, often with my cousins. I saved up to buy a camcorder when I was seven or eight years old, and I would just set that sucker up and do my own cooking show, host my own shows, talk to the camera by myself. My cousin and I would make Play-Doh and pretend we were on a cooking show, we’d make movies. I’ve quickly became very comfortable in front of a camera and always loved being in front of a camera, so that’s kind of how I entertained myself.
Grayson – Did those home videos spark your passion for television? Is being on-air something that has always been your dream?
Grayson – To get involved in politics at nine or 10 is young. I’ve heard you say before that a lot of that interest came from watching the news every night. Would your parents ever get frustrated with you always having an opinion on a topic, or did they always let you speak your two cents and encourage you to do so?
My family is always involved in the conversation, but my parents are not political. A lot of people think that my parents must be very politically active. They’re not. However, they do have strong opinions and values. Both of my parents grew up in small towns of 1,000 people or less. My mom was raised right outside of a reservation, I had grandparents that didn’t go past high school and my grandpa on my mom’s side didn’t even go past middle school, 12 or 13 years old. As people who worked really hard on a ranch, that lifestyle brings up people that are concerned about the economy and concerned about who is in office, because when you’re from a ranching family in an agricultural community, the question of who is representing you at a local and a state level, or even a national level, is life or death. So I’ve always cared about those things and I’ve always cared about my country. Especially being that young and having 9/11 happen. It was a sense of patriotism that I felt I’ve always had, but that was really a moment that spurred a lot of love for my country. While some of my classmates may not have realized the magnitude of what had happened, I did.
Grayson – I picture South Dakota as rural, small town. But Rapid City is one of the bigger cities in wide open state. How big was your high school? What was your graduating class?
My hometown wasn’t big, but it was big for South Dakota. Rapid City is probably about 70 or 75,000 and my graduating class was about 435. Somewhere around there. We only had really two major big high schools, so I had a pretty large class, especially in comparison to a lot of the smaller schools in the state.
Grayson – You were Student Body President during your senior year of high school. What was your platform? Why did that position excite you?
Grayson – People like to complain, but won’t do anything about it. Can you expand on that idea?
Flashback to two weeks ago. Rapid City was considering a mask mandate. I think everyone’s very well aware of how I feel about masks, infringements, tyranny and all of that, I’m very vocal about it. But my hometown was gonna implement a mandate, and obviously I couldn’t be there to speak at the city council meeting. I told my mom I was going to write something and asked her if she could go up, read it and say it was from me. My mom is the opposite of me, she doesn’t like spotlight, she doesn’t like confrontation, she doesn’t like people looking at her. I told her ‘if you don’t want this to come to Rapid City, and then the next thing is going to be a stay-at-home order, then you need to start here and you need to stand up.’ She went and read my letter but she was terrified… Almost didn’t do it. She got a lot of applause and felt like she really did something, and then guess what? They shot down the mask mandate. It just goes to show that people in small towns at a local level can make a big difference if they’re just willing to speak. Even if it’s not at the presidential level, at your city council level, you can make a difference.
Grayson – You went against the grain after high school and attended UNLV for college. I’m sure you could have gone to other places… why Vegas?
I like unconventional things, if everybody goes this way, I like to go that way. When everybody was going to a South Dakota school or Minnesota or Colorado, I was like, ‘you know what? I’m going to go to Las Vegas.’ I thought about going somewhere closer, maybe Nebraska, but I knew I couldn’t stay in-state, so I looked at UNLV. I had gone there on vacation and I thought it was a really cool, weird place. I wanted something very different. Not just different from South Dakota, but just different. And I promise you this — there is no school that’s like UNLV.
Grayson – I would have to imagine that Vegas is a fun place to go to school. It may be different, but it has to be a good time. What kind of shenanigans would you get into on the weekends? What was your go-to order at the bar?
All throughout high school, all throughout college, I never partied. I was always working. On a Friday or Saturday night, I had to go to ‘Express’ and fold jeans. I never got to go out or do anything. Plus, Vegas is not a house party town because you have the Strip. Who wants to party in a house when you have the Las Vegas strip? The thing is, you can’t get in anywhere without an ID and they’re very strict. So if you’re under 21 there’s not much you can do anyway, but I had to work. Then I turned 21 and yeah, I had fun. When I was 21, I was told that the only shot you could take was Jack Daniels, and so I spent the entirety of my senior year really only drinking Jack Daniels. Now the smell of Jack Daniels makes me wanna barf. I had a lot of fun in my senior year on Saturday night, but then it was back to work on Sunday morning.
Tomi takes off.
Grayson – You love speaking in the spotlight. It’s your whole career. You have a very specific delivery, or perhaps cadence is the word I’m looking for. Where did that come from? How did you develop your intonation and tempo?
It comes from growing up in a small town and learning to have a voice. I believe that I’m very articulate and I get my words out clearly, but I speak quickly and I speak in layman’s terms. I like to connect with people with the language that I use. So when I write scripts, I don’t try to write them to seem robotic, I don’t try to write them to seem like I am an intellectual or an academic. I like to write them as someone who’s from Rapid City, South Dakota and part of the silent majority in a forgotten American. I like to speak to people in a way that makes them feel part of the conversation, not as though I’m trying to sound smarter than them. It’s always been me.
Grayson – I know that as the student body president, you had to make the morning announcements. Is that when you started to develop your voice?
I love to speak to whoever will listen to me. I’ve always enjoyed it. Some people are really good at sports, some people are really good at music, some people are really good at acting and they just know that that’s what they wanna do. For me, this has been it. It’s been politics and it’s been public speaking. I’m a performer and I like to get people’s attention. When I say performer, people think, ‘oh, well, that means that you do this for attention or you do it for theatrics. You do it to be a shock jock.’ No, no… Don’t get me wrong. I mean exactly what I say, but I’m someone that likes to get people’s attention because I wanna get my point across. I don’t think you can do it being meek. I think you have to do it by being either sarcastic, funny, aggressive, passionate, or a mix of the four.
Grayson – After college you went to OANN, to The Blaze, you spent some time working on the Great America Alliance PAC and then boom, Fox calls. When Fox gives you the ring, did you know that it was the place where you wanted to be?
Grayson – Fox brought you on to help champion the digital and streaming side of the network. You are one of the best in media when it comes to having an online presence. You’ve always run your own social, you run everything yourself. Was that a big part of the conversation when you got on the phone with Fox? Wanting to keep it that way?
Grayson – You’re like a duck in the sense that people come back at you and it rolls right off, like water on a duck’s feathers…
I’ll do you one better. I always say I’m like a rhino because cause I have rhino-thick skin. You really can’t penetrate a rhino’s skin.
Grayson – How did you teach yourself to have that ‘rhino skin’ at age 22?
Grayson – You mentioned the Jay-Z feud. The headlines may have lasted a couple of days and then faded, but you’re forever on a track with Hov and Pusha T. The song probably dropped at midnight and I’d imagine you didn’t know. Did somebody text you? When did it come to your attention that they sampled you?
If you’re familiar with Charlamagne tha God from The Breakfast Club, he’s the one who told me. I wouldn’t say we were friends, but we had reached the point where he would tip me off when the rap community is upset with me. He was the one to email me and said, “hey, just so you know, you’re in Jay-Z and Pusha T song.”Sure enough, there I am on ‘Drug Dealers Anonymous.’ He also let me know that I was in the Walle song when he gave me my famous nickname Tammy Lahren. Charlamagne also emailed me about that one.
Grayson – Does that happen more often than we even see?
If a rapper’s coming after me, you’re gonna know about it. It’s crazy, I can’t really name all of them at this point. It’s been Jay-Z, Pusha T, The Game, Cardi B, 21 Savage… Maybe that’s it. And then obviously, Beyonce and Jay-Z are kinda together on that. I’ve gone back and forth with all of them. Also, I’ve been getting a lot of Google alerts lately about Cardi B, talking about WAP and talking about how conservatives went after her for that song. And in every Google alert I get, they mentioned a couple of other names and then they mention me. I’d like to set the record straight for the first time here and now — I never went after her for that song. I think that that’s what she should be rapping about, I think that that is what she should be doing. I don’t hate it, I love it. Go be you. Sing about dirty things. I’m a lover of rap music, I like that song. Just don’t start talking about politics and telling me that Donald Trump is a racist. Don’t come into my world if you’re not prepared to be questioned over it. I have no problem with that song. You do you… That’s good with me, I prefer that.
Grayson – A lot of things politically get you riled up, for lack of better words. What in your personal life brings the same reaction? Is there something like chewing while eating or not covering your mouth while coughing that just makes you tick?
Have you watched my PSA for Boyish Men? Watch that. I pretty much get it all out there. Otherwise, I’m just a very OCD person. It’s not something that makes me tick necessarily, but if I have somebody over at my house, which is very rare, and they move something, I’ll go and move it back. I’m the only child, so people in my space or people touching things in my space makes me anxious. I like things to be where they are and I like them to be clean. But it’s stuff that you just kind of learn to get over. I don’t really get riled up. People would be shocked to know that when I’m not doing my job and when I’m not talking about politics, I’m a pretty chill person, I just go with the flow. I want everybody to have a good time.
Grayson – That’s a good transition. Say you’re out at a restaurant and somebody comes up to you. This person isn’t a fan of yours and has a bone to pick with you about something you said. What do you say to someone like that? Do you even respond?
Grayson – You got here to Nashville less than a year ago and the Jay Culter rumors hit almost right away. I know that you have debunked them and there was no relationship there, but it begs an interesting question. Everything that you do is going to be in the news. How do you approach dating in a private sense when your life is so public?
It was funny when that came out because I’ve actually dated people here in Nashville with the same, if not a higher, profile than Jay that nobody knows about. I’m pretty good at keeping stuff private. Jay’s a friend, so when people saw us out at the bar Winners, they thought that we were together. No, that’s just a friend of mine, that’s all it was. I’m pretty good at keeping stuff secret because trust me, I’ve dated people in this town that people will be shocked to know and I’ve kept it very secret. There really is no such thing as dating for me though, I just don’t. I get two things trying to date. I get people that know who I am and are fans, which is uncomfortable, or I get people that have a public status that know who I am and frankly don’t care. But those people could never be seen with me because they get all of the backlash. They don’t just get the rumors, they get the backlash, so people don’t want that for their career, and they can’t be seen with me. I kind of just hang out my friends at this point, there is no dating for me.
Slobberknockers. (Heavy hitters)
Grayson – Let’s go through some notable UNLV alumni and see if you think that you have surpassed them in notoriety.
Grayson – You drank almost exclusively Jack Daniels in college, but surely you’ve found your drink of choice by now. When you’re at a bar, what are you ordering?
I’m a Miller Light girl. I like a good American beer. I’m a beer drinker, but I’ll drink about anything. I love tequila, I love wine. I don’t like mixed drinks, but I’ll do shots. I like to drink on Friday and Saturday. I try to limit my drinking to two days a week.
Grayson – Explain that Instagram. June 7, 2019. You posted a flashback to “the one night you ended up at a 7/11 at 3:00 a.m. with a donut.” What’s the backstory?
How do you not end up at a 7/11 at 3:00 a.m. with a donut?! It’s the end of the night, where are you gonna go? My friends always ask me how I don’t get hungover. Well, I don’t get hungover because when I drink, I eat. Don’t mix your liquor, don’t drink everything under the sun and then eat afterwards. That’s the trick. I mean, last week, I ordered McDonald’s around 3:00 a.m. and I think I ordered like 40 chicken nuggets.
Grayson – Did you finish all 40?
No, and nobody helped me either. I think I gave my dog Koda one, but I didn’t finish all 40.
Grayson – If you had a non-political career, what would it be?
That’s a tough one. I always thought I would be a lawyer or a lobbyist, but I don’t know if that would be that much fun to me anymore. I really like marketing, so anything marketing or brand promotion. I’m very good at that. I feel like I’m pretty creative and I know how to promote, so I would probably do something like that if I didn’t do this.
Grayson – We are BroBible. How do you define a Bro?
I think it’s like a guy’s guy, or one of the guys. I think that’s what BroBible would mean to me, at least. It’s uncensored, uncut and how men think.
Grayson – Who wins in a fight: 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?
100 duck-sized horses.
Grayson – If you have the necessities (fire, water, etc.), what three things would you want on a deserted island?
My phone. That kind of encapsulates all of my entertainment because I watch everything on my phone, I do all of my social media on my phone. I’d bring my 40 chicken McNuggets because that’s a necessity and… My hairspray? Probably that.
Grayson – For those who know me well, I have built a following around this question, so your answer is extremely important. Is a hot dog a sandwich?
IS A HOT DOG A SANDWICH? 🤔🌭🥪
— Grayson Weir (@GsonJW) December 21, 2020
Grayson – Let’s try If Tomi Lahren had a slogan, what would it be?
“Never apologize when you’re right.” And that goes both ways because I’m obviously on the political right.
To keep up with Tomi’s next search for a drunk donut at 3:00 a.m., follow her on Twitter or Instagram. For more exclusive interviews and unmatched #content, follow BroBible on Twitter and keep up with Grayson on the site.