President Donald Trump appears to be starting his own White House tradition ― greeting star college athletes with fast food feasts.
Celebrating a visit on Monday from the Baylor University women’s basketball team, winners of the NCAA championship tournament earlier this month, the president rolled out a spread of from Burger King, Chick-fil-A, McDonald’s and Wendy’s.
The team posted photos of the paper-wrapped items on Instagram.
It’s the third time this year that Trump has hosted athletes with fast food.
North Dakota State University’s football team, this past season’s winner of the NCAA’s Division 1 subdivision championship, in March was greeted by Trump with McDonald’s and Chick-fil-A offerings. Chick-fil-A has stoked outrage in recent years for its support of organizations that push anti-LGBTQ agendas.
In January, Clemson University’s football squad, who won the season’s Division 1 championship, were served a similar selection of sandwiches and sauces from Burger King, McDonald’s and Wendy’s, along with Domino’s pizza.
The meal prompted derision online, and even sympathy from “Good Morning America” co-host Michael Strahan. The former NFL player offered to treat the players to caviar and lobster to make up for it. A restaurant boasting three Michelin stars also invited the team and its coaches out for a luxurious dinner.
The recent winner of the NCAA men’s basketball championship ― the University of Virginia ― won’t be helping Trump indulge his known preference for fast food. Coach Tony Bennett last week scotched speculation about whether the team would be willing to make a White House visit by announcing that because some players are “pursuing pro opportunities” while others are “moving on” from the school, “it would be difficult, if not impossible to get everyone back together. We would have to respectfully decline an invitation” to be honored by Trump.
Bennett’s rationale generated skepticism, especially given the school’s locale in Charlottesville, the site of a white supremacist rally in August 2017 marked by deadly violence. Trump has been widely castigated for what many ― including some in his administration ― saw as a response that fell far short of sufficiently condemning the rally’s participants and racism in general.
Commenting on Bennett’s excuse for ruling out a White House visit, Larry Sabato, the director of the university’s Center for Politics, told The New York Times, “You’d have to be incredibly naïve to believe it was a scheduling conflict.”