Dolly Parton turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom from Donald Trump not once, but twice. According to the country music legend, she turned it down because her husband was sick.
“I couldn’t accept it because my husband [Carl Dean] was ill and then they asked me again about it and I wouldn’t travel because of the COVID,” she said on NBC’s Today on Monday. Parton also revealed that she heard President Joe Biden might also offer her the award, but she isn’t certain she’ll accept it. “Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure,” she added.
Parton famously donated $1 million to the research and development of Moderna’s COVID-19 vaccine. “I’m sure many, many millions of dollars from many people went into that but I felt so proud to have been part of that little seed money that hopefully will grow into something great and help to heal this world,” she told BBC at the time.
She also spoke about her donation after finding out the Moderna vaccine had been approved/ “I’m just happy that anything I do can help somebody else, and when I donated the money to the COVID fund, I just wanted it to do good,” she told Today in November. “Evidently, it is. Let’s just hope we find a cure real soon.”
The Presidential Medal of Freedom—which was created by President John F. Kennedy—is given to anyone who has made a significant contribution to the U.S., either in a security or national interest capacity, or regarding culture, world peace, or other public or private endeavors.
Barack Obama also thinks Parton is deserving of the award. In an interview with Stephen Colbert last year, when the subject came up, Obama expressed how “shocked” he was that she hadn’t received it yet. “That’s a mistake,” he said. “She deserves one. I’ll call Biden.”