Athletes at the Republican National Convention

Athletes at the Republican National Convention

This year’s Republican convention, like its Democratic counterpart, will also look unlike any other. The party was supposed to hold its event in Charlotte, and then Jacksonville, before moving the proceedings online.

Reports show that UFC president and Trump pal Dana White will make his second speech at a convention.

For a party that has branded itself as wanting politics out of sports, the RNC has a long history of letting athletes speak on their Convention floor.

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Arnold Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Illustration for article titled Athletes at the Republican National Convention
Photo: AP

The professional bodybuilder got his political start in 1990, serving the George H.W. Bush administration as chairman of the President’s Council on Physical Fitness and Sports. Thirteen years later, the celebrity actor and athlete ran for Governor of California — and won. In 2004, the Governator spoke at the ‘04 convention to help re-elect George W. Bush. In the speech, he spoke about being a proud Republican. This year, however, he does not plan to vote for Trump.

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Jason Sehorn

Jason Sehorn

Illustration for article titled Athletes at the Republican National Convention
Photo: Getty

The former Giants cornerback took the convention floor at Madison Square Garden with then-wife Angie Harmon to spotlight the stories of two decorated veterans in the crowd and announce their support for the re-election of George W. Bush. The celebrity couple vouched for Bush to create “a safer world and a more hopeful America.”

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Lynn Swann and Dorothy Hamill

Lynn Swann and Dorothy Hamill

Lynn Swann
Lynn Swann
Photo: AP

Olympic gold medalist Dorothy Hamill and Hall of Fame wide receiver Lynn Swann kicked off the final night of the 2004 Convention to celebrate America’s ‘04 medal count like it was an international policy breakthrough and to talk about physical fitness in the country. Swann, who served as the chairman of the president’s council, ran for governor of Pennsylvania in 2006. He lost that race and has not sought office since.

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Bryan Clay

Bryan Clay

Illustration for article titled Athletes at the Republican National Convention
Photo: Getty

After winning an Olympic gold in the Decathlon in 2008, Clay spoke on the convention floor with his medal draped around his neck. The Hawaiian told a story that highlights the similarities between sports and politics — a topic Republicans will likely use in a different way this week.

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Natalie Gulbis

Natalie Gulbis

Illustration for article titled Athletes at the Republican National Convention
Photo: AP

The most recent athlete to speak at the RNC was LPGA golfer Natalie Gulbis in 2016. The Celebrity Apprentice contestant spoke about a “gracious, generous, and inspiring” Trump the rest of the country has yet to see. After 19 years on tour, Gulbis will retire from the LPGA at the end of the season.

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J.C. Watts

J.C. Watts

Illustration for article titled Athletes at the Republican National Convention
Photo: AP

The former OU quarterback was a freshman member of Congress when he spoke at the 1996 RNC. The Oklahoma legislator started the address by commending ‘96 presidential candidate Bob Dole for selecting “the second best quarterback in the Republican party [Jack Kemp] to be his running mate.” After ‘96, Watts went on to serve six more years in Congress, serve in the Bush administration, and launch the Black News Channel.

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Jack Kemp

Jack Kemp

Illustration for article titled Athletes at the Republican National Convention
Photo: AP

Kemp, a former pro quarterback, gave a primetime address at the 1996 RNC as a member of the presidential ticket. Bob Dole’s vice presidential nominee graduated from Occidental College and played professionally for over a decade in the NFL, CFL, and, mostly, the AFL.

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Steve Young

Steve Young

Illustration for article titled Athletes at the Republican National Convention
Photo: Getty

Young, a practicing Mormon, delivered the invocation on the floor of the Republican National Convention in 2000. Young, a religious conservative, is also an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ students at BYU and wants to see Colin Kaepernick play again. That may not earn him another invite to the RNC.

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Steve Largent

Steve Largent

Illustration for article titled Athletes at the Republican National Convention
Photo: Getty

Congressman Largent was scheduled to speak at the ‘96 convention but… he missed his time slot. Convention personnel wanted the Hall of Fame wide receiver to come to the floor early to practice his speech. But when he showed up late, organizers said they had to cancel his address.

“I’ve been involved in productions like this enough to know that you need to give yourself plenty of lead time,” the Oklahoma representative admitted. “I just wasn’t prepared for the congestion both inside and outside the convention center.”

Missing his speech was “like showing up at the airport and finding out somebody gave your ticket away to a standby passenger,” he said.

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Mike Eruzione, Kim Rhode, Derek Parra

Mike Eruzione, Kim Rhode, Derek Parra

Mike Eruzione.
Mike Eruzione.
Photo: AP

Because of Mitt Romney’s involvement in the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, around a dozen Olympians took the Convention floor to vouch for then candidate Romney. But the three athletes to voice their support for Romney at the podium were Olympic sharpshooter, Kim Rhode, 1980's Miracle on Ice team captain Mike Eruzione, and speed skater Derek Parra.

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Chris Devlin-Young

Chris Devlin-Young

Illustration for article titled Athletes at the Republican National Convention
Photo: C-SPAN

Devlin-Young took up ski racing after a plane crash in the Coast Guard left him paralyzed from the waist down. The two-time Paralympic gold medalist took the stage in 2012 to discuss national service and introduce Senator John McCain.

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