The Formula 1 champion was a candidate to vote for at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year (SPOTY) during the weekend.
During the evening, the British number one came 2nd, losing out to Geraint Thomas, the winner of the Tour de France. Next to Lewis came English footballer Harry Kane.
The driver faired better than the previous nomination, the 2nd place finish improved on the 6th last time out. In 2014, he won the award for his 2nd world title during the first year of Mercedes domination we still see today.
The award is given to the nominee with the most public votes, and during the evening the six nominees always give a short speech.
During Hamilton’s moment behind the microphone, he talked about the long journey from humble beginnings to arguable bonafide F1 great, along with the chances of beating the insurmountable looking stats that Michael Schumacher set. But much of this seemed to be lost after a slip of the tongue he made, sending social media networks alight with criticism.
Hamilton describing his story starting out in Stevenage to F1 said, “It was a long, long journey. I’ve been involved in motorsport since I was eight, and I’m very proud to be here tonight. I’m very proud to have my family with me, my mother, my father, my brother and his girlfriend, my uncle Terry.
“As a family, we set out to do something different, we had a dream, to get out of the slums… we would say, but it’s not the slums”
There was a clear hesitation after saying ‘slums’, with a quick correction stating that it was something ‘we would say’.
This didn’t seem to matter to the masses on social media, many of which decided to take to Twitter and cry out about the fact that Stevenage isn’t a ‘slum’, and that Lewis should stop being a rich playboy slating his hometown. Easy to see the reason for the outcry, particularly if you’re from Stevenage. Many probably missed the reason, or the Fuedian slip, for saying such a thing.
It’s not the first gaff made by the 5 time world champ, and nor will it likely be his last. I won’t mention directly, but Ali G does frequently come to mind.
Take also last year when the driver didn’t do too well as a nominee despite taking a 4th title with the ever dominant Mercedes juggernaut. The 2017 SPOTY was ill timed for Hamilton as the so-called ‘Paradise Papers’ revealed how thousands of ‘customers’ had systematically evaded tax payments, the long list of alleged sinners included Lewis Hamilton.
In total, more than 13 million documents were leaked providing evidence of how multinational corporations and super-rich had systematically evaded tax payments – in the form of obfuscation, splitting and money laundering, and using letterbox companies in tax havens.
The Mercedes racer appeared to have avoided the VAT on his purchase of a private Bombardier Challenger 605 jet, denying British people and the UK government a total of more than 4 million dollars.
Lewis Hamilton’s lawyers in the UK responded to the allegations with a statement stating that aircraft leasing was a normal practice.
No matter, the public perception of Hamilton was hit hard and the driver suffered from a not too surprising lack of votes for sports personality of the year 2017.
So when we hear Hamilton speaking during this year’s award, it is clear that we really are hearing exactly what he would like us to believe. The story of a boy done good, from humble ‘slum’ like beginnings.
The amusing thing is, the slum of Stevenage really isn’t quite that bad, with average house prices of £300,000 making it rather an affluent part of the UK, particularly compared to the more northern provinces.
Yes, the Hamilton’s weren’t that well off, especially compared to many other more wealthy families putting their children through the karting and junior ranks, but lets not forget just how young he was when McLaren’s Ron Dennis took him under his wing, gifting the youngster with a budget and support over his competition.
That slip of the tongue, that word ‘slum’ just proves to all there is an official and engineered story of Lewis Hamilton, and this is quite probably supported by his branding and media management. Literally, that of being a ‘chosen one’, through hard work, and a touch from God, and he made it to the very top of his sport.
By exaggerating the degree of his so-called humble beginnings, makes his achievements even more remarkable. They do say that history is written by the winners. Even if it’s not exactly a story based much in reality. Belief in one’s own hype is oft a symptom of success.