Over the last eight years, it has become an annual tradition for basketball fans to compare their NCAA tournament picks with the president. While president, Barack Obama collaborated with ESPN each year for “Barack-otology”. Fans hoping to see Donald Trump’s bracket picks will be disappointed. The president has declined to participate in the event this year.
“We expressed our interest to the White House in continuing the presidential bracket. They have respectfully declined,” ESPN said in a statement.
Despite turning down the offer, the White House has expressed interest in a future collaboration with the network. “We look forward to working with ESPN on another opportunity in the near future,” White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks told The Washington Post.
Trump does have ties to the sports industry, but does not appear to be a massive college basketball fan. Trump attended the Army-Navy college football game last fall, a tradition Army fans hope he keeps as the Black Knights broke a 14-game losing streak.
“It is humbling, it’s a great honor but it’s a great responsibility, and when you see these incredible people — we just want to be strong, and they want to be strong. You don’t see this kind of spirit anywhere,” Trump told CBS (via The Hill).
Trump took a slight jab at the quality of football as this clip shows.
According to The Washington Post, Trump owns 17 golf courses and is an avid golfer. He played a number of sports at the New York Military Academy and was a standout first baseman on the baseball team. He also owned a USFL football team as explored by the “30 for 30” documentary Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?.
Trump tweeted after the New England Patriots defeated the Atlanta Falcons in the Super Bowl. His relationship with Tom Brady and Bill Belichick has been well documented.
ESPN’s Andy Katz spoke to The Washington Post about why the bracket segment with Obama became so popular. He noted it worked because he loved basketball not simply because he was president.
“The bracket idea worked because President Obama follows basketball and is passionate about the sport. He wasn’t as dialed in to every player or team but had conversational knowledge to offer his own analysis on the NCAA tournament for the men’s and women’s game. Baracketology was a success because it was clear he was a fan of the sport and the NCAA tournament, like millions of other Americans,” Katz told The Washington Post.
He may not be living in the White House, but it did not stop Obama from filling out a bracket. Obama released his bracket picks on his foundation’s website for both the men’s and women’s NCAA tournaments. Click here to see a full rundown of Obama’s picks. Obama’s Final Four is Duke, Arizona, Kansas and North Carolina.