Oladipo To Endorse Joe Donnelly

The Pacers MVP likes the Democratic Senator.
Victor Oladipo is expected to make a surprise endorsement in Indiana’s U.S. Senate race at a rally in Hammond tonight, backing incumbent Democratic Senator Joe Donnelly over his Republican challenger Mike Braun. Donnelly is set to appear on stage with former Vice President Joe Biden.

Oladipo’s entourage headed to Hammond after Pacers practice this afternoon. After making his endorsement, the reigning NBA’s Most Improved Player is expected to make brief remarks about the importance of voting early, but doesn’t plan to say anything negative about Braun.

Oladipo reached out to the Donnelly campaign on August 15 and asked how he could help. It’s unclear whether the Pacers organization had a heads-up on Oladipo’s endorsement.

The endorsement is the shooting guard’s most high-profile foray into politics—but it’s not his first. He joined rapper 2 Chainz in September 2017 on the single “Rope a Dope,” a response to President Donald Trump’s criticism of NFL players who kneel during the national anthem to protest police brutality and social inequality. “Get involved,” Oladipo encourages listeners on the track. In a press release first reported by Rolling Stone, Oladipo said,I wanted to address what was going on and bring awareness to it, but in a positive manner.”

Donnelly’s campaign manager, Peter Hanscom, is a five-year season-ticket holder. Donnelly himself attended a Pacers-Cavs playoff game earlier this year at Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

While Oladipo’s endorsement likely won’t change voters’ minds, it’s about as buzzy of an athletic endorsement a Hoosier candidate could get at the moment, aside from Andrew Luck or Peyton Manning. It comes not long after Taylor Swift announced her endorsement in the Tennessee Senate race for Democrat Phil Bredesen over Republican Marsha Blackburn. And it’s not the first time that a Hoosier sports figure has weighed in on Indiana’s current hotly contested Senate race: Former Notre Dame football coach Lou Holtz endorsed Braun in August.