shaun white simple jack costume


Shaun White apologizes to Special Olympics for insensitive Halloween costume

The Special Olympics were right to call me out on it,' said White.


Alex Dalbey


Posted on Oct 31, 2018   Updated on May 21, 2021, 2:48 am CDT

After backlash from the Special Olympics, snowboarder Shaun White has apologized for his Halloween costume poking fun of people with disabilities.

This weekend, White posted a photo to Instagram dressed as the character Simple Jack, played by Ben Stiller’s character in the 2008 movie Tropic Thunder. The character is a “joke” half at the expense of disabled people, and half at the expense of actors who try to play disabled people for Oscar bait. It was ableist to start with, but when removed from the context of the movie, it gets much worse.

After the post, White quickly received backlash, and he deleted the picture from his Instagram. The most notable criticism came from the Special Olympics. “We are truly disappointed that Shaun White, an acclaimed Olympian, would choose this costume which is so offensive and causes so much pain,” a representative for the Special Olympics told TMZ. “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.”

Shaun White released an apology to the Special Olympics for his costume on Monday. He said that the costume was a last-minute decision, but it was also “the wrong one.” “The Special Olympics were right to call me out on it,” wrote White in his apology. “They do great work supporting so many tremendous athletes and I am sorry for being insensitive. Lesson learned.”

For some the apology isn’t enough, particularly because it was aimed at the Special Olympics, and not all people with disabilities.

Stiller also weighed in to say he had apologized when the movie came out, but that he stands by the movie and White.

In the end, the Special Olympics accepted White’s apology and said he always has an invitation to “shred” with them at Aspen.

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*First Published: Oct 31, 2018, 10:27 am CDT