David Ortiz, the 38-year-old Red Sox slugger, created another one of his signature feel-good moments on Tuesday when he snapped “selfie” with President Barack Obama during a White House ceremony to honor the Boston club for their 2013 World Series victory. But no sooner had the beloved figure known as Big Papi tweeted the image, than allegations began surfacing that the whole seemingly spontaneous moment was a set-up by smartphone maker Samsung.
But Ortiz flatly denies that the “one time in life chance” was nothing but a paid promotion.
A Samsung spokesperson told The Associated Press, “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.”
— David Ortiz (@davidortiz) April 1, 2014
After Samsung acknowledged its contract with Ortiz, the Red Sox World Series hero came in for a round of tut-tutting from the media.
“Duping the president of the United States into participating with your social media campaign has to be a new low for advertising. It’s flat-out shady. And Ortiz should be embarrassed,” wrote Businessweek correspondent Joshua Green, adding the ultimate insult. “That’s a Yankee move.”
The Washington Post declared that Ortiz “punked” the president.
“Ortiz is a champion all right — of greed,” wrote The Chicago Sun-Times, which branded the widely respected Red Sox designated hitter “low class.”
The Red Sox hometown paper, The Boston Globe which is actually owned by Red Sox principal owner John Henry, confronted David Ortiz about the allegations.
Ortiz acknowledged that he has a paid contract with Samsung — “they supply me with phones and other stuff,” he told the Globe — but he could only shake his head at the charges that the whole presidential selfie moment was nothing but a glorified commercial, saying, “it had nothing to do with no deals.”
“No way, man,” David Ortiz said, when asked point blank if he was paid to snap the selfie. “I don’t understand where that stuff is coming from. I guess people are always going to have their opinions. I learned a long time ago, I’m not going to make everybody happy.”
In other words, David Ortiz is saying that even though Samsung gave him the phone he used to take the Obama snap, the Korean technology manufacturer never told him to get that shot. It was as it appeared, a spontaneous moment.
“I got famous yesterday,” David Ortiz said. “You don’t get a chance to get a photo with the president every day. It happened and I appreciate it. It’s an honor for us to get to hang out with him for a short period of time. I did take a lot of pictures of the White House, but it wasn’t anything on purpose.”