President Obama: 12 of His Most Memorable Pop Culture Moments

8:04 AM 1/11/2017

by Kara Haar

From riding around in a vintage car with Jerry Seinfeld to slow-jamming the news with Jimmy Fallon, Obama may be the hippest president to date.

President Barack Obama on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah - H 2016

Two years before he was elected president, Barack Obama appeared on the May 12, 2006, edition of Late Night With Conan O'Brien, where the host asked if he was thinking of running for America's top job. The then-senator deflected, telling O'Brien: "I was thinking of you as my running mate."

Since then, Obama has made numerous talk show appearances as well as guest-starred on shows from MythBusters to Running Wild With Bear Grylls. He also has exhibited a wealth of pop culture knowledge and made references in everything from a fundraiser speech in which he sang part of "Let's Stay Together" to a State of the Union address in which he referenced Mad Men.

Here are 12 Obama's most memorable pop culture moments during his presidency.

  • Challenging the 'MythBusters' Hosts

    During a 2010 episode of the show, hosts Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman visited the White House as Obama made an appearance to promote science and math education and personally deliver a challenge to the show's stars.

  • Singing "Let's Stay Together" During a Fundraiser Speech

    At a campaign fundraiser at Harlem's Apollo Theater in January 2012, Obama sang a bar of Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" in perfect tune.

  • Posing With 'Star Trek's' Nichelle Nichols

    In February 2012, Obama gave a Vulcan salute while posing with the Star Trek actress at the White House.

  • Referencing 'Mad Men' in a State of the Union Address

    During his State of the Union address in January 2014, Obama drew attention to women’s rights by saying, "It’s time to do away with workplace policies that belong in a Mad Men episode. This year, let's come together – Congress, the White House and businesses from Wall Street to Main Street – to give every woman the opportunity she deserves."

  • Sitting Down With Zach Galifianakis

    In March 2014, Zach Galifianakis featured Obama on his Funny or Die show Between Two Ferns With Zach Galifianakis in an effort get young adults to sign up for health care.

  • Delivering "The Decree" on 'Colbert Report'

    On a special edition of The Colbert Report in December 2015, Obama showed Stephen Colbert that he could take over the segment while informing viewers about the Affordable Care Act.

  • Getting Coffee With Jerry Seinfeld

    Opening season 7 of Jerry Seinfeld’s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, Obama took the wheel of a 1963 Corvette Stingray and made playful jokes about his daily routine as President. Despite being the most powerful politician on Earth, however, even Obama wasn't allowed to slip past security and the show had to take place on the White House grounds. Cue the surreal footage of Seinfeld and Obama driving around in circles in a vintage sports car, with president driving one-handed and not doing that "whole 10 and 2 thing."

  • Picking Kendrick Lamar Over Drake

    In January 2016, Swoozie, a YouTube star, asked Obama to choose who would win in a rap battle between Kendrick Lamar and Drake. "Best album, I think, last year," said Obama as he declared Lamar the winner.

  • Filling Out His NCAA Bracket on ESPN

    Obama has made it an annual tradition to reveal his NCAA men's basketball bracket. Most recently, in March 2016, the president filled out his bracket with ESPN's Andy Katz, predicting that the University of Kansas would beat North Carolina in the final. So how'd he do? North Carolina did make it to the final game and was beaten — but by Villanova.


  • Reading Mean Tweets on 'Jimmy Kimmel Live'

    In March 2016, Jimmy Kimmel featured Obama on his popular segment where he read insulting statements written by random tweeters. He returned in October — ahead of the presidential election — for a second round. Reading a tweet by Donald Trump that said Obama would "go down as perhaps the worst president in the history of the United States," Obama replied: "Well, @realDonaldTrump, at least I will go down as president."

  • 'Running Wild' With Bear Grylls

    On a December 2015 episode of Running Wild With Bear Grylls, the host ventured into the wilds of Alaska with the president as the two talked about fatherhood and shed light on climate change.

  • Slow-Jamming the News With Jimmy Fallon

    In June 2016, Obama joined Fallon as he “slow-jammed” the accomplishments of his presidency and opinions of the 2016 election, and even made a reference to Donald Trump, saying, “Orange is not the new black.”