Apple’s Tim Cook calls sports a ‘great unifier’ in call to ESPN


Apple CEO Tim Cook took a break from running the world’s most valuable company on Thursdayto call in to ESPN for quick chat about his alma mater Auburn University, whose basketball team is heading to the NCAA Final Four for the first time.

Apple CEO Tim Cook at Auburn University in 2014.

Cook reached out to “The Paul Finebaum Show” on ESPN’s SEC Network to surprise host Paul Finebaum, who can be seen in the clip below fielding a call from Auburn fan “Tim from Cupertino”

“Paul, how are you?” Cook asked before repeating Auburn’s battle cry, “War Eagle!”

Finebaum immediately recognized Cook as “not just some Tim,” but the CEO of Apple and “everyone’s favorite Auburn fan.”

During the short exchange, Finebaum asked whether athletics enters the conversation at major corporations.

“Yeah, I think sports is still a great unifier,” Cook said. “So it’s one thing that we can all rally around, and people put their other interests aside to either fight the other side or to hopefully join forces. Yeah, of course, sports always comes up. CEOs are people too, they love sports too.”

Cook and Finebaum went on to discuss Auburn’s basketball program, specifically Tiger’s head coach Bruce Pearl, who took the job in 2014 after a five-year run at Tennessee.

Auburn is on its way to the Final Four after upsetting Tennessee in the SEC championship in March, a stunning victory followed up by a run in the NCAA tournament that culminated in an overtime victory over Kentucky this past weekend.

Cook is an unabashed sports fan who can sometimes be found on the sidelines of Tigers football games or court-side at Duke University, where he earned an MBA from the Fuqua School of Business. The executive is a longtime supporter of his alma maters, having delivered commencement addresses at both Auburn and Duke in the past decade. In 2014, Cook received a lifetime achievement award from the Auburn University Alumni Association.

Most recently, Cook in 2017 visited Auburn to speak about inclusion, diversity and other human rights issues in a talk hosted by the university’s Student Government Association.

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