Greg Louganis is finally a member the Orange Box Club. The 56-year-old champion Olympic diver will be featured on a Wheaties cereal box as part of the brand’s legends series. In addition to Greg Louganis, General Mills unveiled Wheaties boxes for former Olympic hurdler Edwin Moses and swimmer Janet Evans.
— Gregory Louganis (@greglouganis) April 5, 2016
Greg Louganis has long believed that he wasn’t given a Wheaties box because he is openly gay. While he didn’t come out publicly until 1994, rumors of Greg’s homosexuality were widespread, and he wasn’t featured on the cereal box after his gold medal-winning 1984 and 1988 Summer Olympics reigns. Louganis won gold medals both years in the three-meter springboard and 10-meter platform.
But Louganis seems to be of the opinion of “better late than never” and said he has no hard feelings over the past snub. In a phone interview with the New York Times, Louganis said the Wheaties honor means even more to him now than it would have 30 years ago.
“This means so much more than it would have back then. Getting it now means people will see me as a whole person — a flawed person who is gay, HIV-positive, with all the other things I’ve been through.”
— Wheaties (@wheaties) April 5, 2016
Louganis, who married longtime love Johnny Chaillot in 2013, also gave props to General Mills and praised the company’s modern-day diversity program and support of people in the LGBT community.
“The times have changed so drastically and so fast. When I came out to my mom, she feared I’d always be a second-class citizen and never have a chance to be married. But Johnny and I are married, and we’re making a life together.”
Greg Louganis’ belated Wheaties box comes eight months after an online Change.org petition was created in an attempt to get him the long overdue honor. The petition for Louganis received more than 40,000 signatures after it was created by fan Julie Sondgerath, who was inspired after watching the HBO documentary Back on Board: Greg Louganis. In the documentary, Louganis commented that he was never chosen to be on a Wheaties box in the 1980s despite the fact that he was one most successful American Olympians of the era. The champion diver said he believed homophobia was part of the reason that he was passed over for the honor.
“Never got a Wheaties box,” Greg said in the HBO film. “Their response was that I didn’t fit their wholesome demographics or whatever. Basically, being gay, or being rumored that I was gay.”
General Mills denied that the petition played a part in Louganis’ new cereal box, but the timing of his long-awaited honor alongside the two other Olympic champions is definitely interesting.
— The New York Times (@nytimes) April 5, 2016
General Mills made headlines last year after Bruce Jenner, one of the most memorable Wheaties icons, transitioned and made her debut as Caitlyn Jenner. TMZ contacted the cereal giant for reaction, and General Mills said the 1970s Olympic great would always be a respected member of Team Wheaties. But the statement still referred to Jenner as Bruce.
General Mills brand media relations manager Mike Siemienas issued a revised statement saying, “Bruce Jenner has been a respected member of Team Wheaties, and Caitlyn Jenner will continue to be.”
Jenner is best known for starring in the iconic 1978 Wheaties campaign, which included footage from her fairytale win at the 1976 Olympics. The Wheaties ads and accompanying cereal boxes feature some of the most famous images of the athlete before her transition.
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) April 28, 2015
Take a look at the video below to see Greg Louganis talking about getting honored by Wheaties.
[Photo by Tony Duffy/Getty Images]