Trump welcomes Clemson Tigers to the White House with 'American fast food paid for by me'

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Washington (NBC) -- President Donald Trump welcomed the NCAA champion Clemson Tigers football team to the White House Monday with a shutdown smorgasbord of fast food offerings he called "great American food," including piles of pizza and fries and more than 300 burgers.

“Because of the shutdown, as you know, we have the great Clemson team with us, so we went out and ordered American fast food paid for by me,” the president said in the East Room, standing behind a table loaded with offerings from McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King and Dominos served on silver platters, behind a gilded candelabra.

The president's decision to spring for the event came because much of the residence staff at the White House is furloughed during the shutdown, White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said in a statement before the event began.

Ahead of the event, Trump told reporters he thought the selection would be a success because the team featured "very large people that like eating."

The president praised the on-the-field exploits of the team. "To the athletes today, who have eaten more than anyone ever: You inspire America. You really have," he said later in East Room.

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