Editor’s Note: with the Kentucky Derby approaching this weekend, we re-post this Johnny Weir focused article from derby run-up week, 2014.
Johnny Weir is one of sports broadcasting’s brightest stars. A large reason for that is his candor, and the fact that she never shies away from that candid opinion. Weir and his tag team partner Tara Lipinski were fashion critics for Access Hollywood’s coverage of the Academy Awards. This weekend, the duo reprise that role, serving as Kentucky Derby Fashion Analysts for NBC.
Tara Lipinski and Johnny Weir had a media session previewing their coverage of the Derby yesterday and apparently, Johnny Weir doesn’t think the state of Kentucky is synonymous with high fashion sense. He’s not wrong. When I think of the Bluegrass state I think of Coach Cal, Big Blue Nation, bourbon, KFC, Pitino, the movie Goldfinger and that’s about it.
Here’s what Johnny Weir said:
“What is so amazing about the Olympics and the Kentucky Derby as an example that there is drinking and partying and fashion and celebrity and all of these things that go into it.
“It’s not just an NHL or NFL or NBA game that happens almost every night and there’s some tall man shooting a ball in a basket almost every night on my television. These are actual cultural events and that’s what makes the fashion side of things so exciting. And of course there’s the hats, the very rich southern charm that comes through the Kentucky Derby which makes it really unique. You don’t really think of Kentucky and fashion together. So it’s their shining moment for the year with fashion.”
Hey, when Elvis Presley wrote a song about KY, it was about the rain. It wasn’t about the couture. But things got more entertaining on this conference call when a reporter followed up on Johnny Weir’s comments. The back and forth is fun.
Do you expect to receive any nasty emails for suggesting that maybe Kentucky isn’t the hub of high fashion?
Johnny Weir: I get nasty emails about everything I say so I don’t take anything very seriously. I enjoy my life. I enjoy my position. I enjoy the fact that I can work and do something that I love.
There could be a sea of 10 million emails and I wouldn’t care. As long as I can do my job and do it well that’s all I do care about.
So you aren’t backing off?
Johnny Weir: No, I mean, this is Kentucky. It’s time to shine and that’s absolutely the truth. It’s their cultural event of the year. It’s their big, big moment where everyone has focused their eyes on Louisville.
I think it’s the same as New York during fashion week. New York is always fashionable but New York fashion week is when they really bring it and they know it. So it’s very much the same it’s just the Kentucky version.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.
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