Apple CEO Tim Cook says sports are 'a great unifier,' talks NCAA tournament

Even the world’s top tech CEOs find time to put business aside and talk about sports, according to Apple CEO Tim Cook.

Cook, a noted fan of the Auburn Tigers, called into “The Paul Finebaum Show” on ESPN’s SEC Network to talk about the team’s upcoming appearance in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament’s “Final Four.” He introduced himself as Tim from Cupertino, in a nod to the location of Apple’s headquarters in California.

At one point during the call, Finebaum asked Cook if sports ever come up during his conversations with other top CEOs.

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

Born in Mobile, Alabama, Cook attended Auburn University and has an undergraduate degree from the collegiate sports powerhouse. The Apple CEO touts his Auburn fandom on his Twitter bio.

Auburn has been one of the biggest surprises of this year’s NCAA tournament, defeating powerhouse basketball programs in Kansas, North Carolina and Kentucky en route to its appearance in the Final Four. Cook express admiration for Auburn’s basketball coach, Bruce Pearl.

“I think Bruce is an original. There’s nobody quite like him. He’s energized the [Auburn basketball] program like no one, quite frankly, that I’ve ever seen in Auburn’s history and has brought the basketball team to be a contender,” Cook said. “I think we’re all proud of him.”


Auburn will face top-seeded Virginia on Saturday at 6 p.m. ET.