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Governor John Bel Edwards waters a freshly planted patch of grass from Tiger Stadium, Wednesday, December 4, 2019, on the front lawn of the Louisiana Governors Mansion in Baton Rouge, La.

Gov. John Bel Edwards will spend this weekend in New York City, where he will attend the Heisman Trophy presentation and a private gala celebrating the winner of the trophy — who Edwards and the rest of Louisiana hopes will be LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.

Edwards spokeswoman Christina Stephens confirmed Edwards will leave for New York City Friday to be on hand when the Heisman Trophy is awarded Saturday night at the New York Marriott Marquis in Times Square for a dinner celebrating the winner Sunday evening.

“There’s a rumor that if a certain Louisiana athlete wins the Heisman award this Saturday that our governor will be the first governor in the history of Louisiana to present it to him at the Downtown Athletic Club in New York,” Picard Group founder Tyron Picard said at a Council for a Better Louisiana luncheon on Thursday, apparently referring to the gala celebrating the winner on Sunday.

Edwards’ administration confirmed his attendance, but did not confirm he will present Burrow with an award. The $600-a-head Heisman Dinner Gala celebrates the 2019 winner and several past winners of the trophy. The Heisman trophy ceremony is Saturday and will be televised by ESPN. Burrow, Ohio State quarterback Justin Fields, Oklahoma quarterback Jalen Hurts and Ohio State defensive end Chase Young are the finalists, though Burrow is considered the prohibitive favorite.

Stephens said taxpayers won't pay for the governor's flight and accommodations on the trip, though the governor has a state-funded Louisiana State Police security detail that travels with him. 

The governor, a graduate of the LSU law school and close friend of head coach Ed Orgeron, has become one of the team‘s most high profile supporters. Last month, amid his reelection campaign, he showed up at the airport to greet the team after its victory over Alabama, and last weekend traveled to Atlanta to see the Tigers win the SEC championship.

LSU has amassed an undefeated record and a No. 1 seed in the college football playoff. It will face Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl semifinal on Dec. 28 in Atlanta. If the Tigers win, Edwards will be at the Governor’s suite at the Mercedes Benz Superdome in New Orleans cheering them on Jan. 13 – the same day he will be sworn in for his second term. He scrapped the traditional governor’ inaugural ball because of the game.

Email Sam Karlin at skarlin@theadvocate.com