In 2009, 10 days after his inauguration, President Barack Obama made a prediction. In a sit-down interview with NBC's Matt Lauer on NBC before the Super Bowl, Obama guessed that the Steelers would beat the Cardinals in the Super Bowl XLIII, claiming that they would "eke it out in the end."
He was exactly right, as Santonio Holmes' late touchdown catch would seal the win in one of the most competitive Super Bowls of all time. Obama was 1-0 as America's leader predicting America's biggest game.
Seven years later, he remains 1-0. Obama has continued doing interviews before the Super Bowl, allowing the broadcasting channel to show their journalistic chops to their largest audience of the year and allowing Obama to spread his message to his largest audience of the year. But year after year, when asked for his prediction, Obama has passed.
While Obama happily fills out a 68-team bracket for the NCAA Tournament, he flatly refuses to pick sides when it comes to the Super Bowl. Election year? No prediction. Non-election year? No prediction. Two teams from blue states? No prediction. Whatever the circumstance, Obama won't pick a side. Maybe he just doesn't want to face the team he picked to lose if they end up taking a victor's visit to the White House?
He's not running for anything, so hopefully this year he won't punt like he has in years past. In politics, it's better to unite than divide, but in sports, we're all for picking sides and telling people you actually hate them.
Here's a year-by-year breakdown of Obama's non-predictions since his accurate 2009 pick. It's pretty impressive!
Obama was interviewed by Katie Couric, who closed with sports:
I'm gonna let you show off your sports knowledge for a moment. Who do you think will win and why?
I think the Colts probably have to be favored. Mainly because they've got perhaps the best quarterback in history. I mean, Peyton Manning is unbelievable. And you know, they've got a team that has complete confidence in him. Everybody knows the system. There's enormous continuity with that team. So they are tough.
I do have a soft spot in my heart for New Orleans. Mainly because of what the city's gone through. Over these last several years. And I just know how much that team means to them. And I got to know Drew Brees when we shot a commercial for having kids get more active and get off the couch. And he's just a class act. Terrific guy. Wonderful family.
But I would say that the Colts have to be favored. Now, one other factor that I have to confess here is that when my Bears went to the Super Bowl several years ago, it was the Indianapolis Colts that beat 'em. So I probably will still have a little bit of an axe to grind.
And you'd like to issue an executive order, I understand, mandating a close game
Mandating a close game. We had a great game last year. And I'm hopeful that we've got the same kind of game we had with the Cardinals and the Steelers.
I guess you could argue Obama saying he'd think the Colts would be favored as Obama predicting the Colts, but he never did actually predict they'd win.
Obama was interviewed by Bill O'Reilly, and the longtime conservative pundit seized on the rare opportunity to badger the president about things he disagreed with. But he made nice at the end and asked about the game:
Bill, here's the thing. Once my Bears lost, I don't pick sides.
So you don't care?
No, I do care! I want a great game.
You don't care who wins?
These are pretty evenly matched teams.
I think Green Bay is a little faster, the Steelers got a little more experience. I think the Steelers not having their starting center is something they gotta be worried about.
Obama was interviewed by Lauer, who convinced Obama to offer a Steelers prediction in 2009. This time, he wasn't as successful.
It's a good matchup today. I know your Bears aren't here. You like the matchup?
It's gonna be a great game. I think what the Giants have done coming back from a tough situation in the middle of the season is pretty remarkable. And Belichick and Brady are always tough. It's gonna be a close game.
Who do you like?
You know, I can't call it. I think this is gonna be one of those where it comes down to a turnover, or some ball off somebody's head.
A little history. 2004 the Patriots were in it, they won it, George Bush went on to become President of the United States. In 2008, the Patriots were in it they lost to the Giants, and a guy named Barack Obama went on to become President. So who do you want to win this year?
You're not going to get me. You're not going to get me. I'm going to root for a great game.
Lauer went on to ask if Obama's wife and kids thought Tom Brady was hot, and that was that.
CBS sent Scott Pelley to talk to Obama, who declined to ask for a prediction. Ever the newsman, Pelley's only reference to football was a serious question about whether Obama would let his hypothetical son play football knowing what he knows about the dangers of the sport. But before the camera cut away, Obama offered this:
It is gonna be a great game. I have some wings waiting for me upstairs.
O'Reilly again, and he launched directly into discussion of Obamacare. But he left 15 seconds at the end of the interview to ask about the game.
Prediction for the game? Who's gonna win the Super Bowl!
I can't make a prediction, I'm not sure. These guys are too evenly matched. I think it's gonna be 24-21. But I don't know who's going to be 24, and who's going to be 21.
This was the strongest prediction Obama has ever made, and it was incredibly wrong. The Seahawks won 43-8.
Savannah Guthrie did the interview for NBC in the White House kitchen, where Obama and Guthrie sampled beer home-brewed at the White House. She led off with the football question:
I gotta ask you, I know most people in America think about one thing today, the game. Do you have a prediction? I know your Bears aren't in it.
Since the Bears aren't in it, I always think it's wisest not to choose a team, because then I alienate one big city. But I will say it's going to be close. And the question I have is whether Seattle's secondary is healthy enough. That's the heart and soul of their team, and they got three guys back there who are hurt. I don't know how that's going to affect the game.
Guthrie then swerved into a conversation about DeflateGate. Obama said that he felt the Patriots would've beaten the Colts with or without deflating balls, which probably alienated Indianapolis some.