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[Warning: This story contains spoilers for Part 5 of ESPN’s O.J.: Made in America.]
The fifth and final installment of O.J.: Made in America takes us from the controversial not-guilty verdict in O.J. Simpson’s murder trial to the present day, where Simpson is serving time in a Nevada prison for his role in a bungled armed robbery.
After the not-guilty verdict in 1995, Simpson attempted to pick up his charmed life right where he left off … but he quickly found that wasn’t so easy. Here are five things we learned about the O.J. story from the final chapter of Made in America.
1. O.J. was prepared for a guilty verdict.
Following 267 days in court and mountains of evidence, everyone prepared for a long wait when the Simpson murder trial went to the jury. (Johnnie Cochran even left town with his wife for a wine-country getaway.) But after fewer than four hours of deliberation, the jury announced they had a verdict — and Simpson steeled himself for the worst. As friend and agent Mike Gilbert remembers, O.J. told him and a few other friends: “If it’s guilty, I never want to see you guys again. Don’t come to see me in prison, because your lives are going to be changing … my life will be the same.”
2. O.J. just about confessed to a friend.
Gilbert had been one of Simpson’s closest confidantes over the years, and one night after the trial, O.J. may have confided a little too much. Drinking Rolling Rock beer and smoking pot, Simpson was asked by Gilbert what really happened the night of the murders. He says O.J. claimed he didn’t go to Nicole’s intending to kill her, and “if she wouldn’t opened the door with a knife, she’d still be alive.” Gilbert doesn’t even believe that; he attributes the killings to what he calls “the Marcus factor” — O.J.’s seething jealousy of Nicole dating his football friend Marcus Allen. “He went there to kill her because of how she made him feel.”
3. O.J. went into a decadent downward spiral in recent years.
Simpson struggled to make a living following the murders. (A civil ruling ordering him to pay $33.5 million to the Goldman family didn’t help.) He eventually embraced his notoriety and, in 2006, unveiled his own Punk’d-like hidden camera show: Juiced. O.J. would dress up in disguise and fool passersby or attempt to sell his Ford Bronco at a used-car lot. The show’s opening had Simpson dressed as a pimp and rapping while surrounded by topless women. (Juiced aired as a one-off pay-per-view special.) It fit in with his hedonistic lifestyle at the time, fueled by alcohol, cocaine … and women. As O.J. told Gilbert at the time, “What’s crazy is, I’m getting more girls now. They like that bad-boy image.”
4. O.J. is no fan of the Kardashians.
Along with everything else, Simpson can be blamed for the rise of the Kardashians, since their father, Robert, was O.J.’s friend and entered the national spotlight during O.J.’s murder trial. But O.J. apparently didn’t stay loyal to the family following Robert’s 2003 death. Collectibles dealer Thomas Riccio remembers O.J. seeing a young Kim Kardashian on TV promoting her then-new E! reality show, Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Simpson yelled at Kim on the TV: “That’s my goddaughter. … Baby, your dad was shit! That show ain’t gonna last two weeks!” Add that to the list of things O.J. Simpson was wrong about.
5. O.J.’s Nevada trial served as a strange reunion of sorts.
In a bit of cosmic karma, Simpson returned to court to stand trial for a 2007 Las Vegas incident in which he and some gun-toting pals attempted to recover sports memorabilia O.J. felt was his. The robbery was almost a bizarro Ocean’s Eleven, with Simpson and his bumbling accomplices making mistake after mistake. And the trial featured some familiar faces, with Ron Goldman’s family showing up to watch O.J. face justice, and Marcia Clark covering the trial for Entertainment Tonight. Marcia even recalls crossing paths with O.J. in the cafeteria and thinking, “This is weird.” Simpson was found guilty on all charges and sentenced to a total of 33 years. Carl Douglas, who defended O.J. during his murder trial, likens the heavy sentence to a losing football team getting revenge by brawling in the parking lot: “That was the fifth quarter. They got back at O.J. for winning our case.”
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