Two people that you can count on to tune into the Rio Olympic Games are none other than Pres. Obama and the First Lady. They took to Facebook Monday night to talk about the Games and quiz each other on their personal favorites of Olympics past.
So, what is the takeaway from Pres. Obama and Michelle’s video about the Olympics? Michelle is too tall to be a gymnast. But, no, really. The First Couple had words of encouragement for Team USA as well as memories and more to share about their relationship to the games.
The video was released on the White House’s Facebook page and has already racked up nearly 1 million views eight hours after posting. It was also uploaded to YouTube and shared on the White House’s Olympics web page. Standing in front of a grandfather clock and some mini blinds, they cut right to the chase: “We are so excited for the Olympics,” Michelle tells the camera, admitting that she’s a “lifetime diehard Olympics fan.” The president chimes in, “Me too.”
Then they pull out notecards with the Olympic rings on the back and they start quizzing each other. The president goes first, asking Michelle, “If you could compete in any Olympic event, what would you choose?” Her response is the greatest:
It would be gymnastics. I’m not built for gymnastics — clearly — a little to tall. But they are phenomenal, and if I could flip like that I would do it in a heart beat.
Michelle also shared that when she was younger, the Olympics were “an event” and her whole family would sit around the TV to watch. “The Olympics would take over life,” she explained to the President who then did his own rendition of the Olympics song — don’t miss it about 53 seconds in.
Then Michelle began her interview of Barack. She asked who his all-time favorite Olympian is. His answer? Jesse Owens, even though he is “a little” before his time. He was a four-time gold medalist track and field athlete that competed at the 1936 Olympics in Nazi Germany. Owens was black, and his presence at the games was controversial at the time and now, incredibly historic.
His obituary in The New York Times explained that he was harassed in Germany — the goal of the games was in part to prove Hitler’s aryan supremacy claims, but Owens and other black American athletes proved him wrong. “When you think about being not only the fastest man in the world, but you’re doing it front of the Nazis, sending a clear signal about what America stands for, the equality of all human beings, it’s pretty powerful stuff,” Obama said.
Next up? Obama’s favorite sport to watch. The 200-meter dash. Not the 100-meter because it’s too fast. And why not gymnastics? Well, believe it or not, it makes him too tense. “I’m like oh, she’s gonna fall,” Obama said while acting nervous. Again, don’t miss it at around 1:45. Then Pres. Obama had a special message for Team USA:
Bring home the Gold for the Red, White, and Blue. Proud of you guys. Thanks for everything, I know you’ve been training hard. You’re going to do great.
This was actually Obama’s second address to athletes, and third if you count his Instagram and Snapchat appearances. His video released at the beginning of the Games had an important message for Americans watching at home too:
When you watch these Games, remember that it’s about so much more than the moments going by in a flash. Think about the countless hours these athletes put in, knowing it could mean the difference in a split-second victory that earns them a lifetime of pride, and gives us enduring memories. It’s about the character it takes to train your heart out, even when no one’s watching. Just hard work, focus, and a dream. That’s the Olympic spirit – and it’s the American spirit, too.
It’s fun to see the president and Michelle so excited to support the American athletes, but it’s bittersweet knowing they won’t be in the White House the next time the Olympic torch comes to town.