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Joe Biden calls LSU forward Angel Reese to congratulate her on championship win

<i>Tom Pennington/Getty Images</i><br/>Angel Reese led LSU to a championship victory.
Getty Images
Tom Pennington/Getty Images
Angel Reese led LSU to a championship victory.

By Issy Ronald, CNN

President Joe Biden has spoken with Louisiana State University basketball star Angel Reese in a phone call to congratulate her on the Tigers’ NCAA championship win, the White House said Friday.

Biden also spoke with the Tigers’ head coach, Kim Mulkey, the White House said, and left a message for Dan Hurley, head coach of the men’s championship-winning UConn Huskies, to offer his congratulations and invite both teams to the White House.

No specific date has yet been set for the visits, the White House said.

Earlier Friday, Reese had said that she would visit the White House with her team, just days after saying she wouldn’t after first lady Jill Biden suggested that runner-up Iowa might be invited as well.

“Just going back on it, you don’t get that experience (to visit the White House) ever,” Reese said in an interview with ESPN.

“I know my team probably wants to go for sure, and my coaches are supportive of that, so I’m going to do what’s best for the team. And if they would like to go, we decide we’re going to go, then we’re going to go.”

Reese had said on Wednesday that neither she, nor her team, would be visiting the White House after the Tigers defeated the University of Iowa Hawkeyes 102-85 to win their first NCAA women’s basketball national championship on Sunday.

After comments from Jill Biden suggesting that Iowa be invited as well, before appearing to walk that back, Reese told “I AM ATHLETE” podcast hosts Brandon Marshall and Ashley Nicole Moss: “I don’t accept the apology because you said what you said … You can’t go back on certain things that you say … They can have that spotlight. We’ll go to the Obamas.’ We’ll go see Michelle. We’ll see Barack.”

“In the beginning, we were hurt,” Reese said. “It was emotional for us because we know how hard we worked all year for everything. Just being able to see that, that hurt us in the moment.”

Following Sunday’s national championship victory, Mulkey said she would go to the White House if the team was invited. On Wednesday, the school’s athletics department said they would “certainly accept an invitation.”

Speaking on Monday, Jill Biden congratulated both teams on their performance in Sunday’s national championship game, as well as specifically highlighting Iowa’s sportsmanship.

“Last night, I attended the NCAA women’s basketball championship,” said Biden, while speaking at an event at the Colorado State Capitol in Denver.

“So I know we’ll have the champions come to the White House, we always do. So, we hope LSU will come but, you know, I’m going to tell Joe [Biden] I think Iowa should come, too, because they played such a good game.”

Reese, a 20-year-old forward, responded to Biden’s comments, calling them “A JOKE” on Monday, and on an Instagram post from “The Shade Room,” the NCAA champion commented: “WE NOT COMING. period.”

By Tuesday, Biden appeared to walk back the comments, with first lady press secretary Vanessa Valdivia saying in a tweet that they “were intended to applaud the historic game and all women athletes. She looks forward to celebrating the LSU Tigers on their championship win at the White House.”

Reese’s teammate Alex Morris took to Twitter to ask Michelle Obama whether her team could celebrate their win at their house, after Barack tweeted his congratulations to the team.

A spokesperson for the Obamas declined to comment.

Meanwhile, Iowa’s Caitlin Clark said on Tuesday that Iowa shouldn’t be invited to White House.

™ & © 2023 Cable News Network, Inc., a Warner Bros. Discovery Company. All rights reserved.

CNN’s Amy Woodyatt, Jill Martin and Ben Morse contributed to this report.

Article Topic Follows: CNN - Sports

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