Fact Check: South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem Did NOT Ban Sales Of Watermelon Slices

Fact Check

  • by: Uliana Malashenko
Fact Check: South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem Did NOT Ban Sales Of Watermelon Slices No Ban

Did South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem prohibit sales of sliced watermelons, proclaiming the fruit "antisemitic"? No, that's not true: As of May 2024, no executive action or local bill outlawed the sale of watermelon slices, despite claims in a social media post. The author of the post hinted in later updates that it was meant as satire. The governor's press secretary confirmed to Lead Stories there was indeed no truth to the claim.

The story originated from a March 10, 2024 post (archived here) on X.com, formerly known as Twitter . It opened:


South Dakota Governor Krazy Kristi Noem
has just banned the sale of sliced #watermelon from every supermarket in the state.

"It's overtly antisemitic!"declared Krazy Kristi.👇

This is what it looked like at the time of writing:

Screenshot 2024-05-22 at 10.51.58 AM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Wed May 22 14:51:58 2024 UTC)

In 2023, images of sliced watermelons that have a long history of being a substitute for the Palestinian flag (archived here) became a symbol of pro-Palestinian protests in many places around the globe, including the United States.

Days before the claim that is the focus of this fact check went viral for the first time, South Dakota's Noem signed a bill (archived here) requiring "the consideration of the definition of antisemitism when investigating unfair or discriminatory practices."

But she did not enforce a ban on real-life fruits.

A search for the keyword "watermelon" (archived here) across the South Dakota governor's website did not produce any entries corroborating the claim. Another broad search (archived here) across the South Dakota Legislative Research Council website (archived here), which is a legislative service agency for the state's legislature, only showed pre-2023 results unrelated to the Israel-Hamas war, antisemitism, pro-Israel or pro-Palestinian protests, or any bans on said fruit.

The governor's press secretary, Amelia Joy (archived here), told Lead Stories via email on May 22, 2024:

There is no truth to this.

Although neither account on X nor the post was explicitly marked as satire, its author implied more than once in the comment section that it was not a real news story:

Screenshot 2024-05-22 at 11.58.37 AM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Wed Mar 22 15:58:37 2024 UTC)

Screenshot 2024-05-22 at 11.59.23 AM.png

(Source: X screenshot taken on Wed May 22 15:59:23 2024 UTC)

The same claim was previously reviewed by Reuters and USA Today.

Other Lead Stories fact checks related to the Hamas-Israel war that started on October 7, 2023, can be found here.

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  Uliana Malashenko

Uliana Malashenko is a New York-based freelance writer and fact checker.

Read more about or contact Uliana Malashenko

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