Trump Gets Rousing Ovation From Cadets, Midshipmen at Army-Navy Game

President Donald Trump, attending perhaps his final Army versus Navy football game Saturday as the commander-in-chief, received a loud, rousing ovation from the cadets and midshipmen in attendance.

Minutes before kickoff of Saturday afternoon's annual game, the public address announcer at Army's Michie Stadium in West Point asked everyone to welcome "the 45th President of the United States."

Once Trump's name was announced, the socially-distanced crowd made it sound like a full stadium cheering a Black Knights touchdown. The CBS cameras panned the crowd, shown both Army cadets and Navy midshipmen cheering and jumping up and down.

As the crowd cheering continued, a faint "USA, USA" chant could be heard through the noise.

Donald Trump at Army Navy Game
President Donald Trump tosses the coin during the Army-Navy football game at Michie Stadium on December 12, 2020 in West Point, New York. Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images

This is Trump's third-consecutive visit to the Army-Navy game, and his fourth overall since getting elected in 2016. That first year, Trump conducted an interview in the broadcast booth.

At the 2019 game, the president signed an executive order stating that athletes from service academies could postpone obligated service if they were drafted to professional sports teams. There was no indication of executive orders or pregame speeches on Saturday.

President-elect Joe Biden was not in attendance. Newsweek reached out to the Biden transition team earlier this week to see if he would attend, but the Biden team did not respond.

The annual game is typically played at a neutral site, mainly either Philadelphia or Baltimore. This year's contest is the first time on the West Point campus since 1943.

Trump is only the third sitting president to attend the game at least three times. The last sitting president to attend three of these games was George W. Bush, who attended his third game in 2008—the last year in his eight years as president. Bush also attended the game in 2001 and 2004.

Harry Truman is the only other president to attend as many, as Truman attended every year between 1945-50, and then again in 1952. Barack Obama attended the game just once (2011) in the eight years of his presidency. Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush attended the game zero times over a 12-year span of their presidencies.

Trump on Saturday again executed the coin flip to determine which team would kickoff, and which team would receive the ball. Navy won the coin toss and deferred their decision to the second half, and Army received the opening kickoff.

Trump's attendance Saturday comes as the White House continues contesting presidential election results in key battleground states, and as COVID-19 cases ramp up around the country during a second wave of the pandemic.

The cadets and midshipmen in the stadium sat in various groups that were separated from each other for social distance purposes, and they could all be seen wearing masks in the stands.

President Theodore Roosevelt was the first sitting president to attend the Army-Navy game in 1901 at Franklin Field, and he made another visit in 1905.

President Woodrow Wilson watched Army defeat Navy in 1913, and Calvin Coolidge saw Army beat Navy in 1924. Then there was a 21-year stretch before Truman attended.

Coolidge was the first president to sit on one side during the first half and then switch sides at halftime—a tradition still observed today. Kennedy was the first to take part in the ceremonial coin toss.