The sun was barely up Wednesday morning when Dana Lukens, with his credit card and current Maine vehicle registration in hand, joined an elite club.

In a few business days, the Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles will know Lukens’ black 2017 Volkwagen GTI by its new license plate: “COVFEFE.”

“I went out to my car, I had my credit card, it was $27, which is less than a pizza,” Lukens said. “I figured someone’s gonna do it.”

As the saying goes, the early bird gets the covfefe.

And he is not alone.

In one of his regular early morning tweets, President Trump apparently intended to send a message aimed at deriding the news media – but mostly served to confuse his followers.

“Despite the constant negative press covfefe.” read the tweet posted at 12:06 a.m. Wednesday.

That mysterious seven-letter word set off a frenzy of speculation as to what exactly the president meant to say, while others took advantage. Fast-acting car owners around the country started snapping up license plates bearing the word.

According to news reports, people in at least three other states – New York, Nebraska and California – already have claimed their place in meme history.

For Lukens, the idea to grab the plate came to him not in a dream, but during a 2 a.m. perusal of Twitter.

“I just figured, what the heck,” he said. “If you can’t laugh at the world, you yourself will have a stroke and go nuts.”

The plate is certainly not a tribute to the commander in chief, said Lukens, an attorney with the Portland law firm Bernstein Shur specializing in mergers and acquisitions, and business law.

Lukens, 55, of Nobleboro, who identifies as an independent politically, said he voted for Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, largely because he thought she was the lesser of two evils, and that he supported the ranked-choice voting effort in Maine this past fall.

Lukens said he decided to get the license plate for a laugh, and wonders whether, by the time his vanity plate arrives in the mail in a few days, anyone will still be laughing.

For the moment, however, covfefe’s stock is soaring.

Someone already has registered Covfefe.com, which forwards to a T-shirt site selling covfefe-branded apparel, mugs and bags that declares, “because we’re all #covfefe.”

Although the president, infamous for his seemingly unbridled Twitter habit, deleted the message hours later, he egged on the speculation as to the meaning of covfefe.

“Who can figure out the true meaning of ‘covfefe’ ???” Trump tweeted at 6:09 a.m. Wednesday. “Enjoy!”

The mystery deepened during the Wednesday afternoon press briefing at the White House, where, between taking questions about issues of national import, press secretary Sean Spicer dissembled on the definition of the word.

“The president and a small group of people know exactly what he meant,” Spicer said, and refused to say more.

So what’s Lukens’ theory of what the word means?

“I have no idea,” he said. “Apparently Trump and a few of his close advisers know. Maybe if they see me, they’ll explain.”

Matt Byrne can be contacted at 791-6303 or at:

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Twitter: MattByrnePPH