A network spokesman told Sporting News last month that it would extend an offer to Trump to fill out his bracket on ESPN, as Obama did throughout his presidency. But as The Washington Post reported Wednesday, ESPN said the White House “respectfully declined” the offer. White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks told the Post that the White House will “look forward to working with ESPN on another opportunity in the near future.”
Obama filled out brackets for the women’s and men’s tournaments each year of his presidency and appeared on an annual ESPN special called “Baracketology” to reveal his picks. The special frequently drew criticism from conservative media outlets that saw the practice as a waste of time. A big NBA fan and regular participant in pick-up games, Obama said last year that he enjoyed filling out the brackets annually because “college sports at its best can bring people together.”
Trump is an avid golfer, as well as a fan of the NFL and professional boxing. It’s not clear how often he watches college hoops, but he did criticize Obama for playing basketball on Election Day in 2012.
The American Gaming Association estimated that more than 70 million brackets were filled out in 2016.