Host Michael Strahan and Honored Athletes Push for Pay Equality in Sports at Kids' Choice Sports Awards

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“They brought a lot of pride and joy to us in the World Cup and over the year, they should be compensated accordingly,” Strahan said of the U.S. women's soccer team.

Michael Strahan said he believes that the fight for equal pay among women and men in sports shouldn’t just be a "moment."

“They can’t have this moment with the World Cup and everything’s happening and everyone’s saying equal pay,” he told The Hollywood Reporter at the 2019 Kids’ Choice Sports Awards orange carpet. “They can’t just let it subside and you've just got to stay on top of it.”

Strahan, who returned to host the Nickelodeon awards show once again, said that he didn’t know until recently about the large pay discrepancy between members of the U.S. women’s and men’s national soccer teams. For their latest World Cup victory, each member of the U.S. Women's National Team brought home about $250,000 worth of bonuses, the New York Times reported, while each member of the U.S. Men's National Team earn about quadruple that for winning a World Cup. 

Considering record-breaking ratings of the latest Women’s World Cup and how they compare with those for the Men’s World Cup, it’s only right that the women’s soccer team should receive equal pay, Strahan said. It’s not that the men shouldn’t receive such a payday, he said, it’s more about why women aren’t getting the same.

“They brought a lot of pride and joy to us in the World Cup and over the year, they should be compensated accordingly,” he said.

Other members of the sports community, including Olympian Chloe Kim and basketball player Breanna Stewart, who were both up for Kids' Choice Sports Awards on Thursday, weighed in on the conversation about equal pay.

Kim, who went on to win the show’s favorite action sports star award, said that activism on the field is about using one’s voice.

“Use your voice and you will be heard,” the snowboarder said.

Stewart, who was up for the afternoon’s favorite basketball player award, said that she has firsthand experience with inequality. She said that as part of the WNBA, female basketball players have had to play overseas in order to get more playing opportunities and to have an income.

She said felt that the U.S. Women’s National Team’s World Cup win put the conversations about equal pay on center stage. But like Strahan, Stewart said she believes the push for equal pay needs to continue even after hype and excitement dies out.

“The thing now is we can’t just ride the wave. We need to carry this momentum and make something change,” she said.

One highlight of the show was Gabrielle Union presenting her husband Dwyane Wade with the gold Nickelodeon blimp. Before getting doused in gold slime, the NBA all-star imparted words of wisdom to his young audience. He urged them to have a dream worth pursuing, to follow that dream regardless of roadblocks and to listen to their parents. 

Nickelodeon will air the 2019 Kids’ Choice Sports Awards on Aug. 10.