David Ortiz says selfie with president at White House wasn't a paid stunt (Update)

David Brown
Big League Stew
The David Ortiz-Obama Selfie Was Set Up by Samsung
The David Ortiz-Obama Selfie Was Set Up by Samsung

The biggest selfie in major league history was reported to be a paid setup. Boston Red Sox slugger David Ortiz says no, it was all legit.

Ortiz asked President Barack Obama to take a self-portrait with him when the team visited the White House on Tuesday. It seemed like a stunt Ortiz might try no matter the sponsorship — taking a pic with POTUS is very Big Papi — but several outlets including the Boston Globe reported that Samsung electronics encouraged him to do it with one of their products. Sports Business Daily reported Monday that Ortiz and Samsung have entered an endorsement partnership, and Samsung released a statement that made it seem like they partly were behind the Obama selfie.

A coincidence, Ortiz says. From WEEI in Boston:

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"It was right at the moment when I gave him the jersey and he asked to take a picture now or whatever, so I said, ‘€˜Oh, wait a minute, let’€™s see if I can get away with one.’€™ I was lucky that I did,’€ Ortiz said. ‘€œIt was fun. I think it was something I’€™m never going to forget. People went crazy about that. You don’€™t get to see that every day. It wasn’€™t promotional or anything like that. Who knows you’€™re going to be able to take a picture with the President, a selfie? How many people can guarantee that? It’€™s something you don’€™t even have to talk about.’€

Ortiz had used the microblogging social media site Twitter to publish the photo, and it's been retweeted about 40,000 times as of Wednesday evening. Some of the tweets happened, probably, because Samsung paid to promote the Tweet. Big League Stew published its post on the selfie without noticing the Samsung promotion — which Ortiz says came only after the fact.

So there ya' go. One less betrayal of our most precious myths. Santa Claus isn't real. Superman needs special effects to fly. Han shot Greedo first in "Star Wars."

But Papi's Obama selfie was legit.

In a statement, the company said:

“When we heard about the visit to the White House, we worked with David and the team on how to share images with fans. We didn’t know if or what he would be able to capture using his Note 3 device.”

His "device." Don't you like how they make it sound like Ortiz was on a secret spy mission?

Obviously, Ortiz could have done this on his own if he wanted, without being paid to do it. Or by getting into bed with another company — Apple, Sony, LG, HTC or whomever.

Ortiz seemed to reference his endorsement deal by saying "cha-CHING" at a post-Obama press conference. You can hear him pretend to be a cash register at the :45 mark of this video. So that appears to take some spontaneity out of it — unless he meant "cha-CHING" in reference to all of the retweets. Ortiz has made about $127 million playing baseball. Whatever money he's getting from Samsung would pale by comparison. It's reasonable that Ortiz was freelancing here.

Some get outraged from time to time that major leaguers make so much, saying they'd "play for free" even though they couldn't play even if they paid to. They'll be outraged by this too.

The real question is: What did Obama know and when did he know it?

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David Brown edits Big League Stew on Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at rdbrown@yahoo-inc.com and follow him on Twitter!

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