Trump Attends Army-Navy Game, Tells Players to ‘Make a Fortune’

(Bloomberg) -- President Donald Trump attended the 120th Army-Navy football game in Philadelphia, greeting the teams before kick-off and performing the ceremonial coin toss as he took a break from impeachment proceedings that have riveted official Washington for weeks.

The president highlighted his administration’s new policy that will allow athletes at the nation’s military academies to defer their active-duty service and play professional sports after they graduate. “Go out and make a fortune,” Trump told players on each team.

It’s Trump’s third time at the traditional game between the West Point Black Knights and the Naval Academy Midshipmen; twice as president and once as president-elect. The matchup, broadcast on CBS, typically draws about 8 million viewers.

The president arrived at Lincoln Financial Field early enough to visit both locker rooms. He shook hands with players and wished them good luck, accompanied by U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper, before he discussed the new pro-sports waiver policy.

“You’ll go out and make a fortune, and after you are all finished with your professional career you will go and you will serve,” Trump said in the Army locker room. “Everybody is thrilled” with the change, he added.

Trump officiated at the coin toss wearing a red “Make America Great Again” cap, which he removed for the national anthem. He’s expected to split his viewing time between the two sides to avoid playing favorites.

The teams first met in 1890, and Navy holds the all-time edge in the series, 60-52 with seven ties. Army has a three-game winning streak over Navy, but comes to the gridiron on Saturday with a 5-7 record for the season against Navy’s strong 9-2 performance. The Midshipmen are ranked 21 in the nation by the Associated Press.

Trump congratulated the Navy team on its winning season but said they needed to beat Army to cap it off. “It has to happen today,” he said.

The president received a loud round of applause as he strode out to midfield for the coin toss.

By contrast, Trump drew loud jeers from the hometown crowd when he attended a World Series baseball game between the Washington Nationals and the Houston Astros. The president also attended a mixed martial arts bout in New York’s Madison Square Garden on Oct. 30, where he was greeted with a mixture of cheers and boos.

He’s visiting Philadelphia a day after the House Judiciary Committee voted to advance articles of impeachment to a vote by the full House, expected to be taken next week. Trump on Friday also announced the completion of “Phase One” trade deal with China after months of on-again, off-again negotiations.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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