LSU Champion Women accept Biden’s invitation to the White House

BATON ROUGE, LA (AP) — The national champion LSU women’s basketball team will accept an invitation from President Joe Biden to visit the White House.

University spokesperson Michael Bonnett confirmed LSU’s intentions on the matter Thursday, a day after Tigers forward Angel Reese suggested during a podcast interview that her team celebrate their title with former President Barack Obama. and former First Lady Michelle Obama in place of President Joe Biden and First Lady Jill Biden.

Reese made the motion after she said she was not inclined to accept an apology from Jill Biden for suggesting that both LSU and Iowa’s runner-up be invited to the White House. President Biden hasn’t pursued that idea, calling only LSU and men’s national champion Connecticut.

Vanessa Valdivia, a spokesperson for Jill Biden, said the first lady did not mean to disrespect LSU and that her comments were meant to pay tribute to the historic game and all sports. With a 102-85 victory over the HawkeyesLSU’s point total was the most scored in a championship game by a single team. His total of 187 also broke the previous mark. The game also drew a television audience of 9.9 million, a record for an NCAA women’s game.

Bonet said that there is currently no set date for the White House visit. He could not confirm whether all players and coaches will be able to attend.

In an appearance in Denver on MondayJill Biden praised Iowa’s sportsmanship and congratulated both teams. She also said that as part of the longstanding tradition of the champions visiting the White House, Iowa State should also come “because they played such a good game.”

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Reese called Jill Biden’s proposal on Monday a “joke.”

Some commenters on social media pointed to the racial dynamics involved, saying that the winners should only be rewarded with a visit to the White House and that hosting both teams would detract from the achievement of the LSU team, which is predominantly black. Iowa’s team is largely white. Others pointed to the important role of black women in Democratic Party politics.

President Biden was Obama’s running mate and vice president for eight years. Meanwhile, Obama actively campaigned for Biden in the 2020 election.

After LSU won, Coach Kim Mulkey said she would go to the White House if invited. Reese said Wednesday she’s not sure if she’ll go.

Reese has faced criticism on social media for mockingly waving her hand in front of her face as she stared at Iowa star Caitlin Clark near the end of the game. Clark, the Associated Press Player of the Year, didn’t make a similar gesture to anyone in particular during Iowa’s victory over Louisville in the Elite Eight.

Reese said she doesn’t think LSU, had it lost to Iowa, would have received the same praise from Jill Biden as the Hawks did.

She added, “If we lose, we will not be invited to the White House.” I remember her making a comment about both teams having to be invited because of sportsmanship. And I’m like, ‘Are you saying that because of what you did?’ Stand behind us before anything else.”

During LSU’s championship parade across campus Wednesday night, a smiling Reese continued waving her hand in front of her face, between waves to cheer the fans on, as she sat in the back of an orange Corvette convertible.

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Reese’s expression on and off the court aroused increasing interest in her. According to Canada Sports Betting, Reese gained 500,000 followers on Instagram in the two days after LSU won the national title, pushing her total followers to over 1 million.

Reese has also been promoted by high-profile athletes with a global following. Seven-time Formula 1 champion driver Lewis Hamilton posted a picture of Reese on his Instagram page. And when the Memphis Grizzlies visited New Orleans this week, superstar Ja Morant made the jaunt to LSU’s Baton Rouge campus for a reunion with Reese that was posted on social media.

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More AP coverage of March Madness: https://apnews.com/hub/march-madness, https://apnews.com/hub/womens-college-basketball, and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25

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