Dolly Parton reveals she twice turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom

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NEW YORK, NEW YORK – NOVEMBER 05: Dolly Parton attends We Are Family Foundation honors Dolly Parton & Jean Paul Gaultier at Hammerstein Ballroom on November 05, 2019 in New York City. (Photo by John Lamparski/Getty Images)

(NEXSTAR) – In a new interview, country music icon Dolly Parton revealed she twice turned down the Presidential Medal of Freedom — the administration’s highest honor — from former President Donald Trump.

Speaking to Today’s Hoda Kotb, the 75-year-old country singer said she first turned it down due to her husband’s illness, and then again because of the pandemic.

“I couldn’t accept it because my husband was ill and then they asked me again about it and I wouldn’t travel because of the COVID,” she said, revealing that President Joe Biden also offered her the Medal of Freedom. “Now I feel like if I take it, I’ll be doing politics, so I’m not sure.”

“I don’t work for those awards,” she went on. “It’d be nice but I’m not sure that I even deserve it. But it’s a nice compliment for people to think that I might deserve it.”

In April, shortly after the coronavirus was declared a pandemic, Parton donated $1 million toward researching the virus at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tennessee. The singer’s donation was used to help fund the development of Moderna’s vaccine, the second experimental COVID-19 drug to yield extraordinarily strong early results during trials.

Parton didn’t stop there. She starred in Dolly Parton’s “Christmas on the Square,” playing an angel in the Netflix musical. She also put out new holiday music, “A Holly Dolly Christmas” with a same-titled TV special where she sang hymns, holiday pop classics and tunes from her new album, and shared her personal and faith-based Christmas memories.

And if that wasn’t enough, she had time to help Cyndi Lauper’s annual concert to combat youth homelessness, too.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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