Obama Awards Internet Meme With Presidential Medal of Freedom

Fun Fact: Michael Jordan was also a basketball player.

Getty Images / Chip Somodevilla

Barack Obama is going to be remembered for many things when he leaves office in January, but he’s sure to go down as the dankest president in history. During Tuesday’s Presidential Medal of Freedom award ceremony, Obama honored NBA icon Michael Jordan, and he gave a shout-out to the infamous “Crying Jordan” meme while he was at it.

The Crying Jordan meme, in case you’re unfamiliar, involves a picture of the legendary athlete taken way back in 2009 when he was giving an emotional speech during his Basketball Hall of Fame induction. Jordan cried several times during the speech, because it was a hugely important moment for him. Because people on the internet are monsters (and because the photo is legitimately hilarious) it became a meme in 2012, with numerous Photoshop remixes.

Over time, the meme has become such an internet mainstay that Obama couldn’t help but reference it while he awarded Jordan the medal, which was officially given to the 53-year-old because he is “one of the greatest athletes of all time,” according to the White House.

Crying Jordan.


Obama introduced Jordan (who, it should be noted, was crying) glowingly. The president said Jordan was “more than just the best player on the two greatest teams of all time — the Dream Team and the 1996 Chicago Bulls.”

“He’s more than just a logo,” Obama continued. “More than just an internet meme.”

It wasn’t the only joke Obama made at Jordan’s expense, though it was easy to see that both burns were coming from a place of sincere admiration. While introducing all the award winners — whose ranks included Tom Hanks, Frank Gehry, Ellen DeGeneres, Bill Gates, and many more — he shouted out MJ’s acting career.

“We’ve got innovators and artists,” Obama remarked. Public servants, rabble rousers, athletes, renown character actors … like the guy from Space Jam.”

Obama clearly knows a thing or two about memes. Heck, his vice president is one. It’s doubtful that President-elect Donald Trump will be nearly as dank, but I look forward to being proved wrong a year from now when Trump hoists a medal over Dat Boi’s frog head.

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