Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump Debate Preview: The Celebs, Snapchat Filters and Super Bowl Ratings?

by Alex Ungerman 2:26 PM PDT, September 26, 2016
Photo: Getty Images

This is a big moment.

Anticipation is boiling over for tonight's first presidential debate tonight, in what will be a historic face-off between Hillary Clinton -- the first female nominee of a major political party -- and the highly controversial Donald Trump.

Amid tightening polls, a widening partisan divide between the left and the right, and important questions about who we are as a country, it's nearly impossible that the implications of this election wouldn't permeate the world of pop culture. So it's no surprise that engagement in the event stretches far beyond the political sphere.

Here's what to watch out for in and around the showdown that has everyone buzzing.

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1. There could be some big-name attendees.

Shark Tank businessman Mark Cuban tweeted Monday, "Just got a front row seat to watch @HillaryClinton overwhelm @realDonaldTrump at the 'Humbling at Hofstra' on Monday. It Is On!"

In retaliation, Trump seemingly threatened to invite Gennifer Flowers -- whose affair with former President Bill Clinton came to light during his 1992 presidential campaign -- writing, "If dopey Mark Cuban of failed Benefactor fame wants to sit in the front row, perhaps I will put Gennifer Flowers right alongside of him!"

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Despite the tweet, Trump's campaign later told CNN, "We have not invited her formally, and we do not expect her to be there as a guest of the Trump campaign."

Meanwhile, the Miami Herald reported Monday that Clinton's husband has traveled to Hofstra, New York, with her for the debate, though it is unclear if he will be in attendance.

2. Trump's campaign has launched a Snapchat filter.

Trump is getting in the game with the first-ever nationwide filter from a political campaign, which reads, "Debate Day: Donald J. Trump vs. Crooked Hillary."

Photo: Snapchat

It's no surprise that digital spending is up for both campaigns heading into the home stretch of the election, which can be explained by the fact that tonight's debate will be watched on more than just TV screens...

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3. Celebs will be watching (and tweeting).

A rep for Chelsea Handler told ET that the Chelsea Does star will be covering the debate on Snapchat and Twitter, as well as participating in a Twitter Q&A with fans afterward using the hashtag #ChelseaHelpMe.

"I’ll be live tweeting tonight with my girl @marycmccormack," Handler tweeted Monday. "She was on the West Wing, so she knows more than Trump. #ChelseaHelpMe #Debates."

Other stars that are gearing up for the debate include How to Get Away With Murder's Karla Souza, who wrote, "#LaurelCastillo is getting ready for the #debatenight @HowToGetAwayABC."

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In addition to all of the celeb attention that has already been paid during this election -- from Chrissy Teigen, John Legend, Chloe Grace Moretz, and Katy Perry in Clinton's corner, as well as Trump supporter, Duck Dynasty's Willie Robertson -- don't be surprised if you see even more star-powered Twitter fingers when the debate gets started.

4. The ratings could be bonkers.

Claims that all eyes are on Clinton and Trump tonight are hardly exaggerated.

According to The Hill, some experts are predicting that the viewership of tonight -- on TV and online -- could top 100 million.

For comparison, Super Bowl 50 between the Denver Broncos and Carolina Panthers had 111.9 million tuning in.

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5. GIPHY is trying to get out the vote.

GIPHY has partnered with CBS, and will be live-GIFing tonight's event, as well as The Late Show With Stephen Colbert afterward.

Additionally, the GIF-aggregating website has been dropping celebrity-endorsed messages in their live feed all day aimed at encouraging political participation.

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6. As with all live events, bring on the drinking games...

While debates are ideally used as an opportunity to weigh the candidates' policy positions through an in-depth exchange of ideas, live televised events always tend to lend themselves to drinking games, and with the over-the-top turns this election season has already taken, there's no reason to believe tonight will be any different.

The first presidential debate, hosted by NBC Nightly News' Lester Holt, airs live tonight at 9 p.m. ET. Will you be tuning in?

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