Biden Gives Members of the Seattle Storm an Impromptu Tour of the Oval Office: 'It Surprised Everyone'

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President Biden Welcomes WNBA Champions Seattle Storm To The White House
President Biden Welcomes WNBA Champions Seattle Storm To The White House

Drew Angerer/Getty President Biden welcomes WNBA champions Seattle Storm to the White House

President Joe Biden gave a personalized tour of the Oval Office to members of the WNBA Seattle Storm — a surprise even to players who had been to the White House in the past.

Following a 20-minute ceremony in the East Room on Monday to celebrate the team's 2020 WNBA championship, the commander-in-chief suddenly asked the Storm if they would like a private tour of the Oval Office.

"As long as I live, I'm going to remember that President Biden asked us if we wanted to go to the Oval Office," Breanna Stewart told the Seattle Times. "It was amazing. I've been to the White House a couple of times, fortunately, and now to be able to see some new things, see the Oval Office and learn a little bit more about President Biden is an experience I'll never forget.

Stewart continued: "He didn't have to do that. In fact, I'm sure that wasn't on the schedule, so thank you Mr. President for that. There's just so much history in that room, and he shared a little bit of it with us."

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Congratulatory visits for teams that win national titles in various sports used to be common, but that changed under the Trump administration. Many players said they would boycott the Trump White House, and Trump himself dis-invited athletes, including the time he canceled a White House visit by the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles after several players made critical remarks about him and planned to skip the event.

The Storm's last championship was in 2018, and the team said it wouldn't accept an invitation even if Trump offered one, which he did not do.

On Monday, 78-year-old Biden congratulated the Storm team owners for being the only all-female ownership team in pro sports. He said "the Bidens are a sports family," and noted how his granddaughters are good athletes.

"I wasn't a bad ball player, wasn't a bad football and baseball player ... but I got to admit, all the women are better than us. All of them. You think I'm joking, I'm not, first rate," Biden said.

He also congratulated Stewart for becoming a new mom.

"But what's even more special is she and her wife just became moms for their new baby, Ruby. Congratulations. The WNBA Championship, Olympic gold, and a precious Ruby, and what a year," Biden said. "It's a hell of a year you've had, kid."

Jeff Hoffman, senior public relations manager for the Storm, said Biden's private tour afterward was unexpected.

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"It surprised everyone," Hoffman told PEOPLE. "We were there ready to do our post-event media, and the president said, 'Hey, let's go up to the Oval,' and next thing I know, everybody's gone."

Hoffman said Biden showed the team historical artifacts in the Oval Office and nearby rooms, and chatted with them about his background.

"The fact that he was able to take the time out of his schedule to really interact with them, to show them parts of the White House they don't normally get to see, that was special for them," Hoffman said.