Even in the heat of the 2016 presidential race against Hillary Clinton, Donald Trump took the time to call one of his favorite athletes—New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady—to wish him a happy birthday and to give him a gentle ribbing. While Brady may have won four Super Bowls up to that point, the future U.S. president wanted him to know that he’d lost out on the ultimate prize: his daughter.
“Ivanka chose Jared,” Trump said, according to the recollection of a former top campaign aide. That was “the only thing that you weren’t able to win” Trump added.
The story, recounted on the Omnishambles podcast by Jason Miller, formerly a top Trump campaign adviser, adds another dimension to a long-running tale of missed romance that Trump has recounted in different incarnations before. Usually, Trump speaks wistfully or tongue-in-cheek about how Brady could have been his son-in-law.
But as Miller recalled, the joke’s been directed at Brady, too. Miller said that as Trump and senior campaign staffers were traveling between 2016 events in a car, the Republican nominee called Brady on his birthday after being reminded of the date by his then- chief press handler and confidant Hope Hicks.
He got the NFL star’s voicemail instead.
“The first 30 seconds were pretty conventional,” Miller said, recalling that Trump began by telling Brady that he’s “the greatest of all time,” and that “I see that they’re saying you might play ’til you’re 40” years old.
“Again, it’s a voicemail, that he’s leaving for him,” Miller continued. “So, ‘You’re the greatest of all time, you’re the best, I hope you’re having a great birthday, you’re such a great person. There was only one thing you weren’t able to do.’ And he kind of pauses.”
At this point, Trump’s ex-adviser said he was looking at his phone, when his ears “perk up” in anticipation of where his boss was going to go with this.
“And he’s like, ‘Ivanka chose Jared,’” he added. “‘That’s the only thing that you weren’t able to win at.’”
Miller added that Trump kept joking during the voice message. “Tom, you’re great. Don’t get me wrong, Tom, you ended up doing okay,” Miller recalled Trump saying. “Obviously he starts laughing at this point. Like, he’s being very funny.”
Ivanka Trump and Jared Kushner, both top White House advisers, have been married since 2009, the same year that Brady married Gisele Bündchen, a Brazilian model and one of the wealthiest women in entertainment.
Miller described the Trump voicemail as “lighthearted” and “upbeat,” and an example of Trump’s affinity for “busting people’s chops.” Per his recollection, Trump framed it as, “That’s it, Tom. The greatest of all time. Just the one thing that you couldn’t win at, but that’s okay,” and also told Brady, “I hope I get to see you soon. Go out there and win another Super Bowl this year.”
Brady would go on to win a Super Bowl that year, lose the next one, and then win another this past Sunday.
Miller said he has “no idea” if Brady called Trump back after receiving this birthday message. And the call wouldn’t be the only time that Trump has joked about this, in one form or another.
Last year, The New York Times reported that “several times Mr. Trump joked that he ‘could have had Tom Brady’ as a son-in-law. ‘Instead,’ the president said, according to five people who heard him, ‘I got Jared Kushner.’”
On this week’s episode of “Omnishambles,” Miller sat down with podcast co-hosts Sam Stein, Daily Beast politics editor, and Asawin Suebsaeng, White House and Trumpworld reporter, to discuss not just Brady and the Patriots, but also embattled Virginia governor Ralph Northam; how Miller himself has handled other political firestorms from within; his time helping to run a crisis-comms operation for Trump; and the president’s upcoming State of the Union address.
Subscribe and listen to “Omnishambles” for free on Apple Podcasts and Google Play.