It appears that President Donald Trump is passing on March Madness. He will not continue his predecessor's annual tradition of filling out an NCAA tournament bracket on ESPN.
The network reached out to Trump's staff and invited the president to fill out a bracket on-camera, just as President Barack Obama had the past several years. The network recently received word that Trump has passed. An ESPN spokesman said in a statement: "We expressed our interest to the White House in continuing the presidential bracket. They have respectfully declined."
White House spokeswoman Hope Hicks said in an email to The Washington Post: "We look forward to working with ESPN on another opportunity in the near future." Neither the White House nor ESPN had any details on what other opportunities might lie down the road.
The news didn't exactly come as a surprise to ESPN executives. They knew with a change of president, the annual feature might not continue. Obama hosted an ESPN crew each March and filled out brackets for both the men's and women's tournaments. Two of those brackets are now property of the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.
A spokesman told The Post in December that ESPN would extend an invite Trump to continue the tradition, but Andy Katz, the ESPN basketball analyst who conceived the idea and walked Obama through the bracket explained at the time that "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 said.