OTTAWA (Reuters) - The United States defused a brewing, and cordial, crisis with Canada on Friday, after Prime Minister Stephen Harper joked that Barack Obama has yet to deliver the beer he promised if the U.S. hockey teams lost to Canada in the Olympics.
The White House responded the president does not welsh on his bets.
“In fairness to President Obama, he’s lost bets to me before, and he’s always paid up before,” Harper said to laughter from his interviewers on TSN 1050 Radio in Toronto. “I‘m sure he will.”
During a summit in Mexico, the leaders bet a case of beer on the men’s and women’s hockey teams. The Canadian men beat the United States 1-0 in the semi-finals and then advanced to gold over Sweden, and the Canadian women came from behind in a late surge to snatch gold from the United States 3-2.
“I‘m not privy to the details of the international beer delivery, but I can tell you that the president is somebody who makes good on his bets,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters on Air Force One later on Friday.
“So I‘m confident that Prime Minister Harper and members of his team will soon be enjoying some delicious White House beer.”
The White House has brewed original varieties of beer since the Obama family became its occupants in 2009.
Harper, an ardent hockey fan who wrote a book about the sport while serving as prime minister, recounted the last time President Obama paid up, when then-U.S. Ambassador David Jacobson brought over a case of beer.
“President Obama had signed it, so I thought: ‘Oh, jeez, so I can’t really keep this now - it’s now got the signature of the president of the United States on it,'” Harper said. “So we shipped it to the Hockey Hall of Fame for their collection.”
Reporting by Randall Palmer in Ottawa and Roberta Rampton on Air Force One; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn and Alden Bentley