Return to Transcripts main page

CNN This Morning

Labor Day Travel Expected To Break Records; Hot Temps And Possible Storms Could Hamper Labor Day Plans; Jimmy Buffet's Career Spans Over 50 Years; Military Officials Seek Refuge Amid Second Year Of Fighting; Nebraska Volleyball Sets Women's Sports Attendance Record; Pair Of 4-Year-Olds Steal Spotlight At Annual T-Rex Race In Washington. Aired 8-9a ET

Aired September 02, 2023 - 08:00   ET



AMARA WALKER, CNN ANCHOR: Good morning everyone. Welcome to CNN this morning. It is getting brighter out there. The sun is out. I hope you're having our coffee and joining me and Omar. I'm Amara Walker.

OMAR JIMENEZ, CNN ANCHOR: It's brighter in here because we're together you know, the team of Omara as we branded it --


JIMENEZ: Omara, you know, the names are too similar. I'm in for Victor Blackwell. So Victor, sorry, I'm stealing her for a little bit. We've got a lot to talk about today, including some sad news in the music world and the icon world remembering Jimmy Buffett. The music world says goodbye to the legendary singer-songwriter behind hits like Margaritaville and Cheeseburger in Paradise. We're taking a look back at his life and legacy.

WALKER: And if you're heading outside for Labor Day weekend, be prepared. Record hit and possible storms could hamper your holiday plans, your forecast ahead.

JIMENEZ: Plus all eyes are on former President Donald Trump and his allies as more co-defendants in the Georgia submerging case plead not guilty including Rudy Giuliani.

WALKER: And Senator Mitch McConnell gets medically cleared after freezing for a second time in front of reporters. Now some questions about the future of his leadership.

So if you have travel plans this holiday weekend, you are in good company maybe crowded company. But if you plan on hitting the roads this morning, be ready to drop some cash because gas prices are spiking to historic highs this Labor Day. Today's average gallon costs around $3.82.

JIMENEZ: And if you're flying this weekend, you might want to get to the airport early. TSA screened more than 2.7 million passengers yesterday and they're expecting a record-breaking 14 million will take to the skies this holiday weekend in total. WALKER: CNN aviation correspondent Pete Muntean is at Reagan National with more.

PETE MUNTEAN, CNN AVIATION CORRESPONDENT: It is a climactic end to a record-breaking summer of travel with a new survey saying more than half of all Americans expect to travel for Labor Day at Chicago O'Hare officials are bracing for a 7% increase in passengers compared to the holiday weekend last year. The TSA says after this weekend this summer we'll set a new air travel record with more than 227 million people screened at airports since Memorial Day. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg says flight cancellations are going down. But the latest numbers from FlightAware show it is delays that have increased. This summer more than 25% of flights arrive delayed by an average of 57 minutes.


PETE BUTTIGIEG, TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: This year, we have seen significant improvement. That doesn't mean that the system was immune from some tough travel days this year and this summer.


MUNTEAN: AAA says Even still, travelers remain undaunted booking 4% more domestic trips compared to last Labor Day weekend, and 44% more international trips with destinations like Vancouver, Rome, and London topping the list.


SCOTT KEYES, FOUNDER OF GOING.COM: You are seeing flights and trips over to Europe and down to Latin America are booming right now with numbers that are significantly higher than what we saw pre-pandemic.


MUNTEAN: The crowds also stretched to the roads AAA forecast that popular routes like Palm Springs to San Diego and the Jersey Shore to Manhattan will hit peak congestion on Monday. Before this weekend, the average price for a gallon of regular gas flirted with a seasonal record set back in 2012.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Like everything else, it just keeps going up and it's why I'm meeting my family halfway. I've driven all the way down to Baltimore and back.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We knew they are going to go off. We knew it, so we so we filled up before we left Jersey.


MUNTEAN: The TSA says Friday will go down as the busiest day for air travel of the weekend but it is only the start. The TSA says, in total it will screen 14 million people at airports nationwide through Wednesday. Omar, Amara.

WALKER: All right, Pete, thank you. So of course, Labor Day weekend is supposed to mark the end of summer but it really doesn't feel like summer is ending especially while you're here in Atlanta right? That is so incredibly (inaudible).

JIMENEZ: Yes. They're trying to -- they're trying to hold on as long as possible. Some who refuses to let go. Come on, move on, as another heatwave is expected to break temperature records in some parts of the country.

WALKER: CNN Meteorologist, Allison Chinchar is here now to tell us more. The heat is just sticking around.

ALLISON CHINCHAR, CNN METEOROLOGIST: It is and in fact, one of the only few cool places you're going to find this out west but the caveat to that is it's because they're dealing with a lot of rain showers in the forecast, and even some thunderstorms. You've got some flood watches in effect for multiple states out to the West. We've already got ongoing showers those are going to continue for today. Keep in mind several records were broken yesterday including the city of Las Vegas having record rainfall. More rain is expected not just for Las Vegas, but a lot of the surrounding areas as well.


Here's the thing though the rest of the country facing the heat. Take a look at this. Minneapolis topping out at triple digits on Sunday, Chicago looking at three days in a row of temperatures in the 90s, same thing for Wichita and Omaha as well. But Minneapolis specifically this is a very interesting note. So the forecast for Sunday's 100 degrees, that not only breaks the daily record of 97 set back in 1925 but it also works only the second time in recorded history. They'll have triple digits in the month of September. The only other time was back in 1931 when they hit 104. And they're not the only place that's expected to break records.

A lot of records are expected today, tomorrow, and even in through Monday. Some of these areas could break multiple records. You're looking at over 100 Records possible across the Midwest, and Mid- Atlantic and then eventually spreading into the Northeast as we go into the latter portion of the holiday weekend. And don't forget it's also peak hurricane season right now. We've got quite the active tropics. You've got Gert, the remnants of Idalia picking up some rip current possibilities along the east coast, and then also this system Omar and Amara that we'll have to keep a close eye on in the coming days.

WALKER: All right, Allison Chinchar, thank you. Turning now to some sad news this morning. Legendary singer-songwriter and entrepreneur Jimmy Buffett has died at the age of 76. His website announced his death overnight posting this. "Jimmy passed away peacefully on the night on September 1, surrounded by his family, friends, music, and dogs."

JIMENEZ: And it was back in May that Buffett was hospitalized and forced to postpone part of his tour. His team didn't confirm what caused the hospitalization then and no cause of death has been released just yet. But Buffett was known for his breezy hits, barefoot performances, all explaining life as a beach bum.

And he made it all sound so good. I want a Cheeseburger in Paradise. CNN's Stephanie Elam looks back at his journey to Marguerite -- Margaritaville and all the places in between.


JIMMY BUFFETT, SINGER-SONGWRITER: Wasted away again in Margaritaville.

STEPHANIE ELAM, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jimmy Buffett's laid-back songs captured the feel of lazy days in paradise.

Some called his signature sound Gulf and Western, a mix of country and Caribbean music.

BUFFETT: I love the Caribbean through a sort of a strange way. My grandfather was a sailing ship captain. And he sang the Calypso songs. So all this sort of amalgamation of material came in and came back out and I learned to be a performer and that gave me the vehicle to do it.

ELAM: But it was born Christmas Day 1946 on the Gulf Coast in Southern Mississippi, and raised in the port city of Mobile, Alabama. He began his career making country music, but only really found his musical voice. After moving to Key West in the 70s.

BUFFETT: Changes in latitude, changes in attitude. Nothing remains the same.

ELAM: His time among the colorful characters there helped inspire his tropical style, and eventually led to his landmark 1977 album, "Changes in Latitudes, Changes in Attitudes", and its famous hit song "Margaritaville".

BUFFETT: Some people claim that there's a woman to blame. Now, I think it could be my father.

ELAM: For Buffett's greatest musical success was on the concert stage, not the charts. He made hundreds of millions of dollars touring over the decades, supported by his legion of diehard fans, known as parrot heads.

BUFFETT: The audience is so much fun for me to look at. I mean, there's entertaining to me as I hope I am to them.

ELAM: His music may have been laid back. But Buffett brought so much energy to his life. He piloted airplanes wrote best-selling books, raised funds for Democratic candidates, and amassed a fortune estimated at $1 billion through his Margaritaville lifestyle brand, which included restaurants, hotels, resorts, and casinos.

Like his music, it was all geared toward capturing the magic of the tropical places Buffett loved best BUFFETT: From New Orleans to the Gulf Coast, down into St. Barts and other places, I still can find magic, and most of those places where people think there isn't any left.



JIMENEZ: There's so much to talk about when it comes to Jimmy Buffett and we're going to attempt to do it here with his long-running and somewhat unusual career. Let's talk to contributing editor with Rolling Stone, Joe Levy. So Joe, I just want to start with, obviously he made music. But what made Jimmy Buffett the man so captivating to so many people

JOE LEVY, CONTRIBUTING EDITOR, ROLLING STONE: It does start with the music. But the music describes a lifestyle. The dream of rock and roll. The reason we love rock stars is because they live a life of freedom. They don't live the life the rest of us do. But you didn't have to live like a rock star to be a Parrothead. Or to live the Jimmy Buffett life. You just needed a pair of sandals, and a margarita or a Jimmy Buffett land shark beer. He's someone who went from being a lifestyle guru in his music to being a lifestyle brand.

WALKER: That, I mean, it's really incredible, his reach, right and really ubiquitous presence. And as I was saying, just not just in his lyrics that we use in our everyday vernacular, but again, land shark beer, you know, he has retirement communities. He's got Margaritaville and all these restaurants. I mean, he really is a mogul in his own right.

But let's first talk about his cult following. I mean, this, this is a very special group of people, the parrot heads, what kind of impact is his death to have on them? And what will his legacy be?

LEVY: You know, the impact, it's difficult to say the parent heads are really a mirror community to the Grateful Dead fans who were called Deadheads. And they enact a kind of ritual at every single Jimmy Buffett concert with the Grateful Dead that went on after the death of Jerry Garcia. It's difficult to see that going on after the death of Jimmy Buffett.

But who knows? Because as you said, there are Jimmy Buffett retirement communities. Typically, at a concert or when you go to see a performance, you can buy a T-shirt. With Jimmy Buffett, you could buy Jimmy Buffett T-shirt. You could leave and go to a Jimmy Buffett restaurant. You could stay at a Jimmy Buffett hotel. You could leave there and go home to your Jimmy Buffett Margaritaville retirement community where you could read one of his books, maybe one of his nonfiction bestsellers may be one of his novels.

What is the legacy? How will people continue to enact it? They're going to live their lives the way that he wanted them to in sandals, enjoying themselves after five o'clock, but remembering that it's always five o'clock somewhere.

WALKER: Or barefoot, I mean.

JIMENEZ: Yes, and barefoot. And look, you mentioned it all, it all comes back to the music and I do want to talk about the music for a second. Because this -- his sound. It was country. It was folk. It blended so much together. How did his sound transform the genre that he attempted to fit in? Because I don't know that he fit in one?

LEVY: That's a really interesting question. Because Margaritaville is one of those quintessential 70s soft rock country-styled songs but it's a different kind of country music. The Eagles were making a kind of country music that came out of Los Angeles, and Jimmy Buffett made one that came out of Key West Florida, and it was influenced by those Caribbean sounds. And that became a style of music that other people aspired to. That big hit song years and years ago, it's always five o'clock somewhere with Alan Jackson, the country singer became a kind of entry point.

For Jimmy Buffett into the world of country music, he became a big influence on Kenny Chesney who like Jimmy Buffett has something called No Shoes Nation. You know, and this is a sound that continues to reverberate laid back. Open, fun, really a style of relaxation in the music itself that continues in other performers and all throughout country music right now.

WALKER: What an escape has brand in a provides us enough from reality and what a legend Jimmy Buffett dad at 76. Joe Levy, appreciate you joining us to talk about his incredible career in life. Thank you.

Former Donald Trump attorney Rudy Giuliani is the latest defendant in the Georgia election subversion case to plead not guilty.

JIMENEZ: Now the former New York Mayor will not along with Trump and five other defendants have to appear in Georgia State court next week after waiving their right to an arraignment hearing. 19 People have been indicted but only Trump and 11 other defendants have formally entered pleas and we're still waiting for a decision on whether former Trump Chief of Staff Mark Meadows trial will move to Federal Court. CNN Justice Correspondent Jessica Schneider has more.


JESSICA SCHNEIDER, CNN JUSTICE CORRESPONDENT: Well, Amara and Omar, we are waiting for word from the Federal Judge in Georgia to find out if Trump's former Chief of Staff Mark Meadows will be able to move his case from State Court to Federal Court. The Judge has received briefing at this point from both sides in the case its span -- spans about 35 pages. All of that briefing, it was submitted late Thursday afternoon, so presumably a ruling could come at any time.

The Judge here wanted more clarity on this issue of the numerous acts listed in the indictment against Meadows as part of this conspiracy case and whether if Meadows was performing as a Federal officer under just one of those acts, could the case be removed while the DA Fani Willis of course is saying no. She says the indictment didn't happen because of any single act. But instead the broader conspiracy that Meadows was alleged to be involved in Meadows lawyers, of course, they're saying yes, even if one act touches on Meadows job as Chief of Staff, it should be removed.

So we'll see how this judge rules it's likely we'll see something maybe before Wednesday when Meadows is set to be arraigned in state court. Then we also have defendant Kenneth Chesebro. He was Trump's campaign lawyer. He's filed various motions in state court.

First, he wants the prosecution to speed up their production of discovery to him and his lawyers. His lawyers are saying it's unacceptable that prosecutors have said they'll hand everything over by September 15, which is two weeks from now when they're speeding toward this October 23 trial date. So Chesebro's lawyers say that they're they've given Willis's team a hard drive for the evidence and they're saying that Willis's team really needs to speed it up. They say they can't say they're ready to go to trial, but then slow walk this production of documents.

And then also Chesebro's telling the court that he wants a solo trial. You know, even though he and Sidney Powell both filed for speedy trials, he does not want to go to trial with Sidney Powell. He says he never had any direct contact with her and they're not accused of doing the same thing. So a flurry of filings also as we wait for that federal judge in Georgia to act. Guys.

WALKER: Jessica, thank you. And just a couple of hours President Biden heads to Florida to survey the damage from Hurricane Dahlia. He will meet with Governor Ron DeSantis as well. He'd meet with Governor Ron DeSantis. A preview of that trip is ahead.

JIMENEZ: Plus, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is cleared to work after some recent health scares. But what of his constituents in Kentucky think after he froze at the podium for the second time in as many months.



JIMENEZ: In just a few hours, President Biden will travel to Florida where he'll tour some of the hardest hit areas from Hurricane Idalia but there's a bit of a snag in the President's plans. While his team said he's prepared to meet with Florida's governor Ron DeSantis. The governor's camp says it's not happening.

WALKER: Okay, so CNN Jasmine Wright joining us now from the White House. Jasmine, what's going on? So are they going to meet or not?

JASMINE WRIGHT, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Yes, Amara, well appears there has been some sort of miscommunication or a flat-out Change of plans because late last night, we heard from Governor Ron DeSantis's office who said that the governor had no plans to meet with President Biden contradicting what President Biden told CNN on Friday that he would in fact, be meeting with DeSantis in his trip to Florida today. I want to read you a part of that statement because it's pretty specific. The governor's office wrote that, "In these rural communities, and so soon after impact, the security preparations alone that would go into setting up such a meeting would shut down ongoing recovery efforts."

Now this amounts to a bit of a twist because we just heard from a few moments ago in your conversation with a FEMA Administrator Deanne Criswell who basically said that there's been tons of coordination between the governor's office and the administration, their own team saying that they mutually agreed to a place where President Biden could visit after President Biden told DeSantis that he was coming. Take a listen.


DEANNE CRISWELL, FEMA ADMINISTRATOR: There has been a tremendous amount of coordination. I traveled with the governor on Thursday, and we went to some of the more rural coastal communities and access is fairly limited there. And so when the President contacted the Governor to let him know he was going to be visiting, we mutually agreed the Governor's team and my team mutually agreed on a place that would have minimal impact into operations. And so Live Oak, you know, the power is being restored. The roads aren't blocked, but there's families that are hurting there. I would have to defer you to the governor on what his schedule is going to be.


WRIGHT: Now, in addition to that, we also heard from a White House official who said that in that phone call with President Biden and Ron DeSantis DeSantis, raised no concerns about security precautions. Now, of course, this will be the third time President Biden travels to Florida to to visit a disaster. Both times he's gone previously. He's met with DeSantis. And then over the last week, they've spoken words about each other dedicated to trying to help the people of Florida out. But obviously, that -- that kindness between these two political rivals, perhaps has ended. Now, one person that's interesting that will meet with President Biden on the ground, the White House says is Republican senator, Rick Scott of Florida. An interesting note there, but of course, we'll have to see what happens when President Biden lands in just a few hours in Florida.

JIMENEZ: Yes, we will. We will see what happens. Jasmine Wright, thank you so much.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's Doctor medically cleared him to resume his work schedule after he suffered a second apparent freeze-up during a news conference last week. The 81-year-old Kentucky lawmaker froze for about 30 seconds while trying to answer a reporter's question about running for re-election in 2026. McConnell had to ask him to repeat the question several times. Then he chuckled for a moment before pausing and closing his mouth while staring straight ahead for quite some time.

The same thing happened at a press conference at the Capitol last month. Both incidents are raising questions about how much longer the Kentucky lawmaker can actually serve as the senior U.S. Senator. So here to discuss is Austin Horne, politics reporter for The Lexington Herald-Leader, good to see you. I mean, look right off the bat, we've seen the videos, now twice in as many months. But -- but has McConnell's office been transparent enough about what is really going on here?

AUSTIN HORN, POLITICS REPORTER, LEXINGTON HERALD-LEADER: Well, the main source of information that we've gotten about the leader's condition has been through that letter provided by the Capitol attending physician who wrote that he was, quote, medically cleared to continue with his schedule and appeared to attribute the moment to lightheadedness in concussion recovery. He suffered a concussion in March, if you don't recall. And that letter did stop short though I've explicitly stating that concussion recovery was the reason for the incidents that have been widely publicized. So overall, the office has been pretty short on details, which I think can reasonably be expected in the senses when so much is on the line for him. However, a lot of people are asking for more information.

JIMENEZ: Yes, I mean, a lot of people in -- in leadership, maybe not so much publicly, but also it raises major questions for his constituents as well. Do you have a sense of how his constituents are reacting in Kentucky?

HORN: Yes. I've talked to a lot of, especially Republicans in the wake of what happened earlier this week. And as far as kind of professional and establishment Republicans go, the big reaction has really been deference to McConnell, this attitude of you know, he's earned the right to do whatever he wants here. And to put that attitude into context. McConnell was elected to office at a time in 1984 when Republicans had essentially no power in Kentucky.

So over the past almost 40 years, McConnell has been deeply involved in growing the party to the strength that it has over the state legislature, congressional delegation, and general political power. So your viewers are probably well aware of McConnell's impact on national politics and policy, but it's -- it's worth emphasizing that he's really the Godfather when it comes to the Republican Party of Kentucky, and he takes what I would call a great interest in state affairs. And that said, there are Republicans on the more Maga and liberty wing of the party, many of whom are who are not in the main circles of power who have directly called for McConnell's removal.

After these incidents, he said several local county parties censured him over being too moderate. And I think that crowd is very much pushing for him to resign.

JIMENEZ: Yes, well, thank you so much for your time. Really appreciate you coming on, Austin Horn, appreciate you and we'll see how -- how this unfolds moving forward.

Now, with the overturning of Roe v Wade last June, dozens of clinics have been forced to shutter this Sunday. The whole story with Anderson Cooper follows providers who have uprooted their lives and moved their clinics across state lines.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Knowing that both the clinics in Texas and Oklahoma would no longer be able to exist. It was literally looking at a map and seeing Carbondale Illinois just stand out in a sea of states that would be banned. Texas, Oklahoma, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky, Alabama, Missouri, Mississippi, Louisiana.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Okay, ladies and gentlemen on behalf of Southwest Airlines.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: This country is forced patients to be medical refugees of their home state. But this is where we are at because of the fight on the other side to limit access.


JIMENEZ: It's going to be an incredible story. Be sure to tune in and all new episode of the whole story with Anderson Cooper. One whole story one whole hour airing tomorrow at 8:00 p.m. Eastern and Pacific only on CNN. We'll be right back.



WALKER: While the Ukraine -- the war in Ukraine rages on even military officers need to leave the frontlines and see their families from time to time.

JIMENEZ: Yes. As the summer winds down, CNN's Christiane Amanpour takes us off the battlefield to where they are seeking refuge and recovery.


CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN INTERNATIONAL ANCHOR (voiceover): In the waning days of a second summer at war, under the blazing Black Sea sun, you find well people at the beach, it's actually the first time some of this Odesa coastline has been open for business since the Russian invasion. And while Olga has brought her family for a change of scenery, there is no getting away from it.

Here can you forget the war for a little bit?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE (through translator): Sirens at night don't let you forget. No, we don't forget. At least I don't. But I hope my kids and parents get distracted a little bit.

AMANPOUR: Still those who can make the most of it. Life goes on even in wartime. And here at the Kaleton Beach Club, it's somehow comforting to watch parents slap protective gear onto their infants as if sunburn is the worst that can happen. But of course it's not.

AMANPOUR (on camera): So is it -- is that -- does that mean orthopedics or anything?

AMANPOUR (voiceover): 15 minutes away and the center of town is a modern private recovery and rehabilitation unit. One of 10 set up around the country by a Ukrainian philanthropist. Here in a full bodied sling. 41 year old Vitale (ph) tells us that he volunteered for the front as a deminer until he was blown up by an anti-personnel mine eight months ago in Kherson. [08:35:00]

The first wave hit my face because I was bending down he says, and shrapnel entered my eye another bit hit my finger, and three of my toes were blown off.

On the rehab bed next to him, 43-year-old Ruslan's (ph) injury is less dramatic spine and back problems from suddenly having to haul heavy gear around.

AMANPOUR (on camera): Do you need to get into better shape?

AMANPOUR (voiceover): If I was 20, he tells me, it would be different, but I'm 43 and so it's difficult. But he wants to go back to the front like Vitale (ph) does just as soon as they're patched up. Still motivated, still sure of victory. But then the talk suddenly turns.

Vitale (ph), what do you think you need?

AMANPOUR (voiceover): Immobilized and prone is crystal clear. We need more weapons and jets to close the sky from the Russian missiles, he says. When a soldier is fighting there and his family is here, I'm protected. What do you think goes through our minds?

Andrei (ph) tells me his psychological trauma is worse than the shrapnel to his hand. Because he like all of them want to be back at the front with their comrades to fight for their country and their family.

Mama, I have a mother, a father, a wife, and a cat, he tells me. Back at the seaside, Sergey (ph), a 59-year-old conscript based in Kherson defends his beach time break.

AMANPOUR (on camera): In the middle of war you don't feel strange?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Yes, it's slightly little bit strange, but we need some direction.

AMANPOUR: He'll be back on the arms after his 15th day furlough and he insist their counter-offensive is going according to plan. Christiane Amanpour, CNN, Odesa, Ukraine.


WALKER: What a contrast right I mean from the battlefield to a beautiful beach. That's reality.

JIMENEZ: Exactly. If you don't you don't think about it.


JIMENEZ: But of course as Christiane showed us, it's very real. Up next for us, a historic week for women's sports. More than 90,000 volleyball fans pack a stadium to set a world record. We will discuss the significance, next.



WALKER: As you might expect us, college football gets ready to kick off a sea of Husker Red was all you could see at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln Nebraska this week. This was on Wednesday and these were volleyball fans. Look at the crowd. 92,003 of them breaking the world record for attendance in a women's sporting event.

JIMENEZ: I mean the stadium was so packed. It'd be that most football games held there. The five time NCAA champion Nebraska Huskers beat Omaha and straight says, I don't know how you couldn't when you have that type of crowd cheering you on.

WALKER: Really, but what an amazing tie they must have had. Joining us now is Jane McManus. She's the Director for the Center for Sports Media at Seton Hall University, and Ally Batenhorst, outside hitter for the Nebraska volleyball team. Welcome to both,

Ally, a big congratulations to you. Just what was it like to hear the crowds that the strong thunderous roars? What was it like to play in such an atmosphere?

ALLY BATENHORST, OUTSIDE HITTER, UNIVERSITY OF NEBRASKA-LINCOLN WOMEN'S VOLLEYBALL: Yes, I mean, it was just unreal. I mean, I remember running out to the court and looking around and just thinking to myself, like, this isn't real. And it just it looked fake, like there were so many people there. And we would be warming up during our dynamic warmup, and we'd all be smiling at each other like, oh my gosh, this isn't real, like just try to soak it in.

And it was just such an emotional moment for all of us. We had so many moments where we were just had tears in our eyes, just looking at how much support we had in that moment. And it was just truly incredible.

JIMENEZ: And Ally, I have to chime in too, because I'm a former college basketball player in the Big 10. I'm used to playing in arenas and gyms, like you are, but one I'm jealous of the crowd, but two, how was it different playing in this, I mean, what was it challenging to adjust to this type of crowd this level of crowd because you know, it's a different feel in a stadium like this versus in a gym?


BATENHORST: Yes, I mean, absolutely. And I remember when they told us back in like February, we were like, oh my goodness, we're playing outside in the wind. What if it rains and there were just so many things that went into it, where it was like, Oh my gosh, what if. And I think playing in front of that many people, it just -- I don't even know how to describe how you just adjust to that. But it honestly -- it gives you -- it brings you more nerves, but also hypes you up even more and just knowing that you're playing for something more than just, you're just playing for women's sports and representing women and female athletes. And it just -- it's really it brings you a lot of energy and just joy so it was really incredible. WALKER: Yes, your teammates clearly met the moment. Jane, let's bring you in because I know you grew up in Lincoln, Nebraska. We've seen events like this for men sports like men's basketball and hockey. We know how popular, you know, sports and sporting events are in Nebraska.

But talk about this moment and how important it is and clearly, you know we see the value of women's sports. How do we keep the momentum going?


JANE MCMANUS, DIRECTOR, CENTER FOR SPORTS MEDIA AT SETON HALL UNIVERSITY: Well, that's exactly right. You think of the 90,000 fans that packed the Rose Bowl in 1999 to see the World Cup victory there. And you know, women's sports haven't sustained that level of interest necessarily, but it's not for lack of trying.

I mean, I think when you see what Nebraska did, by putting volleyball in Memorial Stadium, the home of Cornhusker football, it just shows what can happen if you build these kinds of events around women's sports. They are growing in popularity, viewership is up. You had nearly 10 million viewers for the NCAA Women's final last year on ABC. Again, when ESPN decided to put that game on ABC, really lifting the ceiling for who could be watching that game.

And you're finding that all over the place, you're breaking records at the Women's World Cup and Australia, New Zealand this year, the first rounds of the NCAA women's tournament are breaking records year after year, people are showing up for these events. And you know, as somebody who is a proud Lincoln High graduate, I just couldn't be more thrilled to see Nebraska in the middle of it.

JIMENEZ: And obviously women's volleyball popular on the college level as you just laid out. But the fandoms that professional versus college, we've seen in various sports is a little different. How does volleyball make that leap not just with college viewership, but also to provide a great, great spot at the professional level that is watched to the level that we've seen in college?

MCMANUS: Well, I think you're seeing really creative investments and in the space around women's sports right now there's a real acknowledgement that the return on investment is very high, and that the ceiling is very high for these, you know, you now have a professional Women's Hockey League, which has just announced that it's going to begin playing. You have ratings are up for both softball and volleyball in addition to women's basketball in terms of the rating. So that's going to bring sponsorships. That's going to bring investment.

I mean, I think what has to happen is that, you know, really, it's the people who are putting these things on, it's the gatekeepers, it's the administrators, they're the ones that really have to realize what a goldmine they have here and a lot of these women's events that haven't been promoted. I mean, if you look and you see all you see is college football on

your campus, and that's all you're creating for well, then you're leaving a lot on the table. And I think, you know, what just happened at Memorial Stadium with this team and with, you know, with Ally, right there in the middle of it. I mean, that is something that can happen in lots of different places. But you have to build the framework and the infrastructure to give it a chance.

WALKER: And we got to go. But Ally, quick question to you. What is your future hold? What are your big hopes?

BATENHORST: I mean, I just hope to continue to grow women's athletics and women's sports. And I think just having that match on Wednesday just demonstrated that it's continuously growing and it gave female athletes to showcase their talents, not only division one, but a division ball as well and show how competitive they are. And it was just really incredible. And I hope to be a part of it in the future and just continue to give women the attention they deserve, so.

WALKER: Absolutely. Well thank you so much for the conversation. So exciting. Ally Batenhorst and Jane McManus, thank you very much. Back after this.



JIMENEZ: All right, so every year in Washington State runners suit up and inflatable T-Rex costumes for the most unusual race this year. It wasn't just the costumes that caught the attention of so many. CNN's Jeanne Moos has the story.


JEANNE MOOS, CNN NATIONAL NEWS CORRESPONDENT (voiceover): Move over thoroughbred racehorses.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: And they're off and the kids T-Rex race.

MOOS: Here at Emerald Downs in Washington State the first to go down was the blue dinosaur. And the leader lost his shoe or Croc no less. But that didn't stop the one shoe teenage T-Rex from winning. Competitors had to be 14 and under long past when the rest of the contestants had crossed the finish line. The fight for next to last place feature these two stragglers.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Was it hard to run in a suit?







MOOS: Alex Schooley and Sydney Petree are best friends. Sydney is the daughter of the racetracks marketing director. The two-four-year olds rock their warm up and men held hands is the race got underway.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: To watch those two little T-Rexs start to waddle they were trying to run but it was more of a waddle.

MOOS: Sidney kept chewing on a toy T-Rex.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're going to do the interview first. We got to do the interview.

MOOS: There 100-yard dash was immortalized.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: We're about to frame it. Careful, Alex.

MOOS: Two stragglers finally crossed the finish line. Alex just a few feet ahead of Sydney.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Definitely an amazing best friend moment.

MOOS: And don't you dare bring up losing that word is extinct. And Sydney the T-Rex so as lexicon.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The first thing she said to me when she crossed the finish line was Dad we won. We won.

MOOS: Jeanne Moos, CNN, New York.


WALKER: Oh, they won.

JIMENEZ: Winners all round. Join us again in an hour.

WALKER: Smerconish is up next. See you back here at 10:00 a.m. Eastern but first you might think of golf as a leisurely sport but it can be a great workout with lots of benefits beyond exercise in today's staying well.



Look at that. I came up with black girls golf really because my own experience learning to play golf and I found out pretty quickly once I entered corporate America that golf was the one thing that other people were doing that I wasn't.

But once I got better, I started enjoying the game more.

DR. JACQUELYN TURNER, PROFESSOR, TULANE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE: Many studies have shown that golf can increase your life expectancy when playing routinely, walking 18 holes can burn up to 2,000 calories.


Golfers tend to have higher HDL which is the good cholesterol. It also increases your core muscles. You're getting a full rotation.

FITZGERALD: Golf can be a huge stress reliever, you're with friends. Most golf courses are so beautiful and it helps calm you.

TURNER: When playing golf you release hormones that are great for your mental health.

FITZGERALD: It is more about mental endurance and skill so you can play golf for lifetime.

TURNER: You should consult with your doctor if you have prior medical problems before playing golf.

FITZGERALD: Even a flat roses off is not something for you find a community of golfers that you can go have fun with.