Professional sports’ biggest award show, the 2016 ESPYS, took place Wednesday night in front of a packed crowd at the Microsoft Theater in Los Angeles.
It was a huge night for action sports stars to gain the mainstream recognition they deserve, with Ryan Dungey and Jamie Anderson taking home the Best Male and Best Female Action Sports Athlete awards, respectively.
But amid all the nominees was one very notable absence: Surfing star Bethany Hamilton.
Hamilton, the 26-year-old Hawaii-born pro surfer who famously overcame losing her arm as a 13-year-old in a shark attack, was nominated for the Best Female Athlete with a Disability award at the 2016 ESPYS, but made the decision to quietly remove herself from consideration for the award. Her name suddenly disappeared from the voter page.
In a statement to E! News, an ESPN spokesperson shed some light (but not much) on Hamilton’s decision to withdraw her name from the category.
“Bethany expressed to ESPN that she was appreciative of the nomination but didn’t feel it was a good fit for her, so ESPN removed her from the category upon her request,” ESPN told the website.
The statement left room for speculation as to what Hamilton meant by “good fit,” and whether Hamilton considers herself an athlete with a “disability.” But she has not yet given an official reason for her decision.
If she had won the award, it would have been her second time taking home an ESPY, after winning the 2004 ESPY Award for Best Comeback Athlete following her infamous shark attack.
GrindTV has reached out to Bethany Hamilton and her representation for comment on why she chose to remove herself from consideration.
EDITOR’S NOTE, 7/18/16, 1:06 p.m.: A previous version of this post stated that Hamilton won the 2016 Women’s Fiji Pro. She was beaten by Johanne Defay in the semifinals. GrindTV regrets the error.
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