Video: Behind the scenes video with ESPN’s Andy Katz and Doris Burke at the White house is available here, and you can embed a video player using the HTML code at the bottom of this release.
President Obama’s Final Four Selections:
Men’s – Duke, Kansas, Ohio State and Pittsburgh
Women’s – Baylor, Connecticut, Stanford and Tennessee
U.S. President Barack Obama filled out his NCAA® March Madness® tournament bracket predictions for the 2011 NCAA Men’s and Women’s NCAA Basketball Tournaments exclusively with ESPN.com senior writer Andy Katz (men’s) and ESPN basketball analyst Doris Burke (women’s). Video of the interviews with President Obama can be seen exclusively on ESPN America’s signature news and information programme, SportsCenter, on Thursday morning (6 – 8am) and Friday, March 18, (6 – 8am) respectively. Both interviews will be available on ESPN.com and ESPNAmerica.com, as well on subsequent editions of SportsCenter and other ESPN media platforms worldwide.
President Obama opened up with a plea for bracket participants to keep the people of Japan front of mind, saying, “One thing I wanted to make sure that viewers who are filling out their brackets – this is a great tradition, we have fun every year doing it – but while you’re doing it, if you’re on your laptop, et cetera, go to usaid.gov and that’s going to list a whole range of charities where you can potentially contribute to help the people who have been devastated in Japan. I think that would be a great gesture as you’re filling out your brackets.”
The President is predicting a Men’s Final Four of Duke, Kansas, Ohio State and Pittsburgh and a Women’s Final Four of Baylor, Connecticut, Stanford and Tennessee. ESPN America will present complete coverage of the NCAA® March Madness® Men’s basketball tournament, culminating with the National Championship Game on 4th April.
Among the most popular events on the US sporting calendar, NCAA® MARCH MADNESS® engages millions of fans who support teams from colleges and universities around the country, and who watch on television and play free bracket games each year to predict the outcomes of the tournament.
This marks the third straight year in which President Obama has completed a men’s bracket exclusively with ESPN and the second he has publicly provided his bracket for the women’s tournament.
Katz and Burke, who have interviewed President Obama each of the seasons he provided his men’s and women’s bracket selections to ESPN, discussed their White House experiences:
What’s it like behind the scenes?
Katz: “It’s my third time and it never gets old. The President is engaged in the process, knows what he is talking about and it seems he enjoys a brief diversion from an extremely busy day that is part of having the highest pressure job in the world.”
What’s the strangest or most surprising thing about being in the White House?
Katz: “The normalcy. Once you are cleared by security (which is done ahead of time), and you get in there it’s great to see places you heard about, like the Map Room. I love the history there. It’s pretty cool to grasp.”
Burke: “It is hard not to be struck by the history that surrounds the White House. We did the bracket selection inside the library, where there are books from many generations of Presidents. It is impossible not to think of all the influential people that have walked through halls of the White House, made monumental decisions and have dealt with the pressure of being in such a leadership role.”
How is it interacting with the President?
Katz: “It has always helped having the familiarity with him. The rapport that’s been established the past couple of years helps when we are discussing him filling out the bracket.”
Burke: “When President Obama entered the room, it was obvious he was more serious than a season ago with so many world issues on his mind. He is very passionate about the game and was engaged while filling out the bracket.”
President Obama’s men’s and women’s brackets are available online at ESPN.com, and will appear alongside those that millions of fans expected to play in the sites free bracket games, the ESPN Men’s Tournament Challenge and ESPN Women’s Tournament Challenge.
In 2010, the Men’s Tournament Challenge game was the most popular bracket game in the U.S., with nearly 5.4 million entries (breaking the previous record high of 5.0 million brackets set in 2009). President Obama’s 2010 men’s bracket ranked 2,337,604 overall, placing him in the 51st percentile out of all entries in the ESPN Tournament Challenge. While he didn’t predict any of the Final Four teams last year, he correctly picked North Carolina to win the National Championship in 2009. President Obama placed in the 67th percentile for his women’s bracket entry last year.
Fans around the world can play in the Men’s and Women’s Tournament Challenge for free through ESPNAmerica.com and ESPN.com. The games return for their 14th seasons, and fans can submit up to ten entries on ESPN.com. Participants complete and submit a bracket of forecasted tournament game outcomes and points are awarded for each correct pick, with point values increasing as the Tournaments progress.
EMBEDDABLE VIDEO PLAYER – ESPN’S ANDY KATZ AND DORIS BURKE AT THE WHITE HOUSE
Use the following HTML coding to embed the video:
<object width=”384″ height=”216″ data=”http://espn.go.com/videohub/player/embed.swf” allowScriptAccess=”always” allowNetworking=”all”><param value=”http://espn.go.com/videohub/player/embed.swf” /><param value=”true”/><param value=”opaque”/><param value=”always”/><param value=”all”/><param value=”id=6222472″/></object>
Media can compete in a special ESPN Tournament Challenge group – The ESPN America Challenge – for free through ESPNAmerica.com and see how they match up against SportsCenter host Michael Kim and others.
To tweet this release: http://es.pn/PresPicks