Dolly Parton has revealed that she was offered the presidential medal of freedom – the highest US civilian honour – two times by Donald Trump, and turned down the offer both times.
“I couldn’t accept it because my husband was ill,” the country music star says of the former president’s initial offer, in an interview with NBC News. “And then they asked me again about it and I wouldn’t travel because of the COVID.”
Now, Parton has also reportedly heard from the Biden administration about receiving the honour, with former president Barack Obama regretting not presenting her with the award during his two terms in office. However, she’s still not sure if she would accept it, saying: “Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure.”
Back in November 2020, when asked by TV host Stephen Colbert why Parton isn’t on the list of recipients, Obama replied: “That’s a mistake. I’m shocked. I think I assumed that she’d already got one and that was incorrect. I’m surprised, she deserves one.”
“I don’t work for those awards,” Parton adds. “It’d be nice but I’m not sure that I even deserve it. But it’s a nice compliment for people to think that I might deserve it.”
Of course, people don’t just think that Parton deserves a presidential medal of freedom – only last month, a Tennessee lawmaker introduced a bill aiming to honour the musician with a statue in the state’s capitol grounds. The Nashville statue would honour her for “all that she has contributed to (the) state,” says Democratic Rep. John Mark Windle. This includes both her music and her philanthropic work, which has seen her donate $1 million towards a coronavirus vaccine, and set up the Imagination Library to help improve child literacy.
RuPaul has also recognised Parton’s iconic status, inviting her to appear on Drag Race in person, as a guest judge. Unfortunately, she’s yet to accept, apparently turning down several offers over the last decade.