A top American footballer has said that the first player to come out as gay in the sport is likely to make a killing.
Speaking to Bob Costas on the NBC Sports Network, Minnesota Vikings player Chris Kluwe said that “the first gay athlete to come out will have endorsement deals the likes of which you’ve never seen”.
He went on to say: “Think about Gatorade, think about Nike, think about those huge companies that want to stamp their brand, their logo on this generation’s Jackie Robinson. You’re telling me that’s not the biggest marketing opportunity in 50 years? I mean, it’s huge.”
Kluwe noted that newer players in the sport appear to be much more open than the older generation of footballers, giving him hope that “we can dispel this stereotype of the NFL (National Football League) being this macho, close-minded culture”.
He admitted that a footballer’s coming out will be a media sensation but “it will die down because people will realise it doesn’t matter what your sexuality is when you’re out on the field on Sunday.
“It matters can you play football? Can you help us win football games? And at the end of the day, it doesn’t matter what you’re sexuality is. So hopefully we’ll be able to do our part to create a more welcoming culture so that someone feels comfortable in coming out and one day people will be able to be who they are,” said Kluwe.
While not gay himself, the 30-year-old athlete has become a vocal supporter of same-sex marriage rights in the US.
In September, Kluwe sent a letter to anti-gay politician Emmett Burns who had called on the Baltimore Ravens team to stop their player Brendon Ayanbadejo from expressing his support for gay rights.
The letter became a media sensation and became especially infamous for Kluwe telling Burns that gay people “won’t magically turn you into a lustful cockmonster”.