Shaun White Apologizes to Special Olympics for His ‘Insensitive’ Halloween Costume

Shaun White attends the Gold Medal Gala at The Ziegfeld Ballroom in New York City on October 25, 2018. Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Professional snowboarder Shaun White expressed regret after dressing up for Halloween as Simple Jack, Ben Stiller’s disabled character in the 2008 film Tropic Thunder.

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“I owe everyone in the Special Olympics community an apology for my poor choice of Halloween costume the other night,” White, 32, wrote in a statement posted on his Twitter account on Monday, October 29. “It was a last minute decision. It was the wrong one. The Special Olympics were right to call me out on it. They do great work supporting so many athletes and I am sorry for being insensitive. Lesson learned.”

The three-time Olympic gold medalist showed off his costume two days earlier in a since-deleted post on Instagram. The Special Olympics condemned it soon after.

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“We are truly disappointed that Shaun White, an acclaimed Olympian, would choose this costume which is so offensive and causes so much pain,” Soeren Palumbo, cofounder of the organization’s Spread the Word to End the Word Campaign, said in a statement to HuffPost. “Disability is not a joke nor should it be a punchline. We hope that Shaun White and others learn that this just continues stigma, stereotypes and discrimination.”

After White apologized on Twitter, the Special Olympics replied, “Thank you @shaunwhite for listening to our community. You always have an invitation to shred with our athletes at #XGames Aspen!”

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Tropic Thunder was widely criticized and boycotted by disability advocacy groups around the time of its release. The action comedy repeatedly and excessively used the R-word to describe Stiller’s character.

A spokesperson for DreamWorks Pictures said in a statement to The New York Times in 2008 that the movie “satirizes Hollywood and its excesses and makes its point by featuring inappropriate and over-the-top characters in ridiculous situations.” The company added that it did not intend to “disparage or harm the image of individuals with disabilities.”

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