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The 32-year-old Olympic gold medalist — and occasional actor — posted a photo over the weekend of himself as the character played by Ben Stiller. It has since been taken down and a mea culpa has gone up.
“I owe everyone in the Special Olympics community an apology for my poor choice of Halloween costume the other night,” White said in a statement. “It was a last-minute decision. It was the wrong one. The Special Olympics were right to call me on it.”
Soeren Palumbo, co-founder of Special Olympics’ Spread the Word to End the Word campaign, told Huffington Post in a statement the organization was “truly disappointed” in the professional snowboarder.
“We are truly disappointed that Shaun White, an acclaimed Olympian, would choose this costume which is so offensive and causes so much pain. 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.”
In Tropic Thunder, Simple Jack was an over-the-top mentally handicapped character, played by Ben Stiller’s fading star, Tugg Speedman, to mock obvious Oscar-bait films involving someone with disabilities.
The character was condemned by a number of groups in 2008.
Stiller on Tuesday afternoon commented on the news after a Twitter user made a snarky remark.
“Actually, Tropic Thunder was boycotted 10 years ago when it came out, and I apologized then. It was always meant to make fun of actors trying to do anything to win awards. I stand by my apology, the movie, Shaun White, And the great people and work of the @SpecialOlympics,” he said via Twitter.
Shaun White is facing backlash for dressing up as Simple Jack, an intellectually disabled character from Tropic Thunder, for Halloween.
— E! News (@enews) October 29, 2018
2:30 p.m.: Updated with a comment from Ben Stiller.
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