It’s not exactly a presidential tradition that dates back to Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt or even Ronald Reagan, but Donald Trump won’t be sharing his thoughts with ESPN on who he believes will make it through March Madness, all the way to the Final Four and then become the NCAA men’s and women’s basketball champions.
“We expressed our interest to the White House in continuing the presidential bracket. They have respectfully declined,” ESPN said in a statement.
White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks sent an email to The Washington Post stating that, “We look forward to working with ESPN on another opportunity in the near future.” What those opportunities might be were not disclosed by either the White House or the network.
Obama, an avid sports fan, filled out his brackets every year. The federal government also got into the act while trying to roll out the Affordable Care Act, releasing a bracket-style “16 Sweetest Reasons to Get Covered” section on the White House site to coincide with the annual traffic surge they anticipated for fans who wanted to know what the commander in chief thought was going to happen throughout the tournament.
Why, exactly, Trump declined the offer wasn’t stated. There’s the chance that Trump, who notoriously doesn’t like “losing” and “losers” took a look at just how bad Obama was and decided against it. None of Obama’s picks ever made it to the championship game, and Kansas, who he picked to win it all three times (2010, 2011 and 2016, respectively), didn’t even get to the Final Four in any of those years. There’s that, or maybe he’s busy dealing with the mounting controversies plaguing his administration early on.
Like many things, Trump has also not had much luck with sports so far into his presidency. LeBron James has been cracking jokes about the president, Steph Curry called him an ass and coaches Steve Kerr and Gregg Popovich have not been shy about sharing their thoughts on the 45th president. The Super Bowl winning New England Patriots have also turned the traditional visit to the White House after winning a championship into a political statement. Several players have publicly said they won’t be making the visit.