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The former boxing heavyweight champion took to social media to criticize the streamer over Mike, the show that stars Trevante Rhodes in the title role and launches Aug. 25. Tyson claimed that Hulu “stole my life story,” emphasizing that he was not involved or financially compensated for the biographical project.
He captioned an Instagram post Saturday with the message, “Hulu is the streaming version of the slave master.” The post itself added, “Don’t let Hulu fool you. I don’t support their story about my life. It’s not 1822. It’s 2022. They stole my life story and didn’t pay me. To Hulu executives I’m just a n— they can sell on the auction block.”
Tyson also shared his thoughts via a number of Twitter posts that day, with one message reading, “Hulu stole my story. They’re Goliath and I’m David. Heads will roll for this.” A later tweet read, “Hulu’s model of stealing life rights of celebrities is egregiously greedy.”
The day prior, Tyson claimed on social media that Hulu offered UFC president Dana White “millions” to promote the show. “He turned it down because he honors friendship and treating people with dignity,” Tyson wrote, in part.
Tyson voiced similar concerns when the show was first announced in February 2021, with the star referring to it in a since-deleted Instagram post as “tone-deaf cultural misappropriation.” Tyson is participating in a different scripted TV project about his life that is in the works from star and executive producer Jamie Foxx and director Antoine Fuqua.
Mike is certainly not the first biographical project to spur criticism from subjects who weren’t involved, as it’s not uncommon for dramatizations of public figures to be made without their input.
Recently, HBO’s Los Angeles Lakers drama series Winning Time, about the NBA franchise’s storied Showtime era in the the 1980s, was criticized by a number of the figures portrayed on the show. Kareem Abdul-Jabbar wrote in an essay that the series’ characterizations “reek of facile exploitation,” while Jerry West’s legal team demanded a retraction and apology. (For its part, HBO defended the series as “based on extensive factual research and reliable sourcing.”)
During Mike‘s presentation earlier this month at the Television Critics Association press tour, executive producer Steven Rogers (I, Tonya) and showrunner Karin Gist both said they had no intention of portraying Tyson as either a hero or villain.
“We just wanted to tell an unbiased story and have the audience decide what they think or feel,” Gist said. “Challenging what people think they know about Mike and hoping that they come away from the series with something else to think about.”
The Hollywood Reporter has reached out to Hulu for comment.
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