South Dakota’s controversial governor wields flamethrower in Instagram post


<p>South Dakota governor Kristi Noem posted a photo of her posing with a flamethrower.</p> (REUTERS)

South Dakota governor Kristi Noem posted a photo of her posing with a flamethrower.

(REUTERS)

South Dakota’s often controversial governor Kristi Noem has once again drawn attention on social media after posting a photo of herself on Instagram wielding a flamethrower.

The governor, who has often drawn criticism for her relaxed attitude towards the coronavirus pandemic, on Tuesday posted a photograph of herself holding the device while it was alight.

“Is it too late to add something to my Christmas list,” she wrote.

The post quickly went viral, amassing over 30,000 likes on the platform and almost 800 comments within 24 hours.

Governor Noem’s communications specialist, Ian Fury, clarified in a response to a discussion of the post on Twitter that the flamethrower is not owned by the governor.

“To be clear, it’s not her flamethrower,” he said, without addressing inquiries about who it belonged to or where the photograph was taken.

“Not cleaning up or correcting anything, just giving the reporter a bit more context,” he later added.

Across the US flamethrowers are available online and are even stocked at local firearms and ammunition stores.

Many commenters praised the governor in the comments saying she is “the only Republican candidate who can hold the MAGA torch” and calling her “the best governor in America”.

Others questioned why and where the governor was holding the dangerous tool, and drew attention back to criticism of her handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Only slightly less deadly than her response to the Covid pandemic in her state,” one person tweeted.

South Dakota has recorded more than 95,500 infections of the novel coronavirus since the outbreak began in March, leading to the deaths of 1,381 people in the state.

Ms Noem has often fielded criticism for her controversial attitude towards the coronavirus pandemic, which has killed more than 323,000 people across the nation, having often placed emphasis on “personal responsibility” over mitigation methods.

The governor endorsed both a motorbike rally attended by more than 250,000 people in the state and an Independence Day fireworks celebration at Mount Rushmore of up to 7,500 people, during which social distancing and mask-wearing were not obligatory.

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