It’s White House tradition to host a celebratory dinner for the winners of the College Football Playoff National Championship. The Clemson Tigers, this year’s winners, were not greeted with the same treatment as years before.
The current partial government shutdown — which the U.S. entered Dec. 22 after President Donald Trump insisted that Congress fund a $5 billion border wall — has affected more than 800,000 federal employees, according to a New York Times article. This shutdown, the longest in history, has affected employees at the White House as well, including the kitchen staff. Short a kitchen staff, Trump paid for the Clemson Tigers’ dinner out of his pocket. The celebration’s menu surprised many.
The commander-in-chief has received backlash for the disrespectful gesture of serving fast food to the Clemson team. The football players and coaching staff were welcomed with a candlelit dinner of cheap and unhealthy junk food: McDonald’s, Domino’s Pizza, Wendy’s and Burger King. There were gravy boats filled with dipping sauces and quarter pounders stacked high. Even the fries were removed from their normal packaging and placed in cups with the presidential seal.
Before the football team entered the dining room, Trump told members of the press, “I will say the Republicans are really, really sticking together. It’s great to see because we need border security.”
With the president’s history of fabricating numbers, it was no surprise he exaggerated how much food he ordered for the team. In a video posted on ABC, Trump said to reporters, “Do we give you some little quick salads that the first lady will make, along with the second lady — they’ll make some salads. I said you guys aren’t into salads,” Trump said. “Or do I go out and send out for about 1,000 hamburgers? Big Macs. So we actually did. We bought 1,000. Burger King. All American companies. Burger King, Wendy’s and McDonald’s.” But in a video posted on Twitter, there were only 300 hamburgers on display.
Here’s a video I shot of President Trump showing off his 300 hamburgers. pic.twitter.com/P06S6I5w07
— Hunter Walker (@hunterw) January 14, 2019
Trump took to Twitter, his favorite social media platform, to brag some more.
“Great being with the National Champion Clemson Tigers last night at the White House,” Trump said in a now deleted tweet. “Because of the Shutdown I served them massive amounts of Fast Food (I paid), over 1000 hamberders etc. Within one hour, it was all gone. Great guys and big eaters!”
Clemson’s football team is comprised of high-performance athletes on special diets — one that certainly doesn’t include an array of fast food. It’s out-of-touch for Trump to think what was served was appropriate. One of the football players was caught on video saying, “I thought it was a joke.” But it wasn’t. These boys were indeed in the State Dining Room feasting on pizza and nuggets off the White House’s fine china.
This inconsiderate act does not reflect well on how the administration treats the tradition and raises questions regarding the legitimacy of our president. Trump has made numerous comments bashing football players who choose to take a knee during the National Anthem at games in protest against racial injustice and police brutality. Trump tweeted less than five months ago that football games are no place to protest and that players should, “Stand proudly for your National Anthem or be Suspended Without Pay!” It’s odd for Trump to act supportive of football teams but in the same breath criticize those who are exercising their right to free speech and protest.
Celebrities such as Ayesha Curry, Quavo and Michael Strahan have offered to give the team a proper feast with food like lobster and steak. To some, this dinner may seem like a minor accomplishment for the players. But the bigger picture is that the Clemson Tigers deserved more than a table decorated with fast food. These are boys who give their all to their collegiate team and are not given nearly as much as they deserve.
The administration’s decision to feed the players fast food because of the government shutdown speaks volumes. This act proves the ridiculous measures the current president is willing to go to to advance his agenda. Turning a celebratory dinner into an endorsement about a wall to keep out black and brown immigrants is disheartening. While this may seem like a fleeting incident, it speaks larger to our president’s big ego and small heart.