Trump Looks Again to Non-Traditional Sports Outlets as Election Nears

    • President Donald Trump at the White House has given exclusive interviews with Barstool and OutKick in the run-up to the election.
    • Popular topics include the NFL and the return of the Big Ten.

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With less than two weeks before election day, President Donald Trump continues to seek out non-traditional sports media outfits to spread his message.

Trump talked about the return of Big Ten Football in a one-on-one interview with Jason Whitlock of OutKick on Oct. 21. Trump also discussed race relations in the U.S. and rapper Ice Cube’s dealings with the dueling presidential campaigns of Trump and Democratic candidate Joe Biden. 

“It was a great experience to engage with the president about the importance of football and his relationship with Black celebrities and influencers,” Whitlock said in a statement to Front Office Sports.

Trump has repeatedly railed over mixing politics and sports, bashing the NBA, NFL, ESPN and college football officials who shut down the sport after the coronavirus pandemic. But Trump continues to mix sports and politics in his own interviews with sports sites generally scorned by the mainstream media.

Trump previously joined OutKick founder Clay Travis’s show last month to discuss the return of Big Ten football. In July, he did a one-on-one interview with Barstool Sports founder Dave Portnoy at the White House. President Barack Obama, meanwhile, preferred ESPN as his chosen sports outlet.

Trump’s media strategy is straightforward. If enough voters credit him with the return of Big Ten football, it could help his reelection chances in battleground states such as Pennsylvania, Michigan and Ohio. 

Trump has not been shy about claiming credit for the Big Ten’s return. 

After previously canceling its college football season due to coronavirus concerns, Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren spoke with Trump on Sept. 1 about the possibility of football returning.

Two weeks later, the Big Ten reversed course and announced it would play football this fall. Trump took a victory lap, tweeting it was “my great honor to have helped.” However, Warren did not hold the power to unilaterally reinstate the fall football season, instead it was decided on by the conference’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors.   

Then, during the first presidential debate in Cleveland, Trump spiked the football again, declaring: “By the way, I brought back Big Ten football. It was me, and I’m very happy to do it and the people of Ohio are very proud of me.”

Speaking to Whitlock, Trump also noted the return of the Pac-12, saying “we got [it] open.”

The Big Ten returns to action on Oct. 23, with Wisconsin hosting Illinois. The conference’s television coverage will swing into high gear the following day, with Michigan vs. Minnesota on ABC and Ohio State vs. Nebraska on Fox Sports.