Louisiana State University’s Angel Reese called reports that first lady Jill Biden wants NCAA tournament runners-up the Iowa Hawkeyes to be invited to the White House a “joke.”
The LSU Tigers defeated Iowa 102–85 to win their first NCAA tournament title. It was the most-viewed NCAA women's basketball game on record, according to ESPN, with 9.9 million viewers.
The first lady, who was in the stands at the final, celebrated the growth of women’s basketball before praising the Iowa team for playing “such a good game” during her appearance in Denver.
“I know we’ll have the champions come to the White House; we always do. So we hope LSU will come,” she said. “But, you know, I’m going to tell Joe I think Iowa should come too, because they played such a good game.”
Much of the reaction to the game had been focused on Reese after her taunting of Iowa’s star player Caitlin Clark at Sunday’s match spotlighted a glaring double standard for Black women athletes.
Critics branded Reese "classless" despite her mirroring Clark’s hand movements. Reese, who was named the most outstanding player in the tournament, spoke out after the game about the unfair treatment. “All year, I was critiqued about who I was,” Reese said. “I don’t fit in a box that y’all want me to be in. I’m too hood. I’m too ghetto. But when other people do it, y’all say nothing."
On Monday night, Reese posted a link on Twitter to a story on Biden’s intention to request an invite for Iowa, including three laughing emojis and the caption, “A JOKE.”
The privilege of being invited to the White House is one typically reserved for the title winners. Biden’s suggestion that the invite should be extended to the runners-up appears to have further advanced arguments around double standards and how Black achievement is minimized since Iowa’s team is predominately white and LSU’s is predominantly Black.
BuzzFeed News has contacted the White House to confirm whether Iowa could expect an invitation.
The gesture was criticized by those online who argued that the same invite would not have been reciprocated in a reverse situation.
“If Iowa would’ve won, Jill Biden would not even have considered inviting LSU to the goddamn White House. Come on now,” journalist Imani Gandy wrote.
“When Black women win a national championship, they should not be forced to share the stage with the losing team,” former White House aide Keith Boykin wrote.
“Black women are the most loyal constituency of the Democratic Party,” he added. “The White House needs to walk this back as soon as possible.”
Another LSU player, Alexis Morris, appeared to take offense to Biden’s open invitation and posted a request to celebrate with the Obamas.
“Michelle OBAMA can we (LSU NATIONAL CHAMPS) come celebrate our win at your house?” Morris posted.
Hall of Famer and sports commentator Shannon Sharpe criticized Biden for creating a “dumb scenario” in the current climate and watering down sports.
"The losers don't get anything; this is not a participation award," said Sharpe, who also suggested that the optics of the invite would not play well with Black women, who supported Joe Biden in the 2020 presidential election in large numbers.
“Did you forget who helped put your husband in the White House?” Sharpe said. “You're going to find out a very seriously hard lesson in ‘24.”