Nancy Kerrigan is a retired American figure skater who gained a considerable amount of fame after becoming an Olympic bronze medalist in 1992, a two-time world medalist and the U.S. national champion in 1993. But what came next earned Kerrigan more fame than anyone could have imagined.
The night before the U.S. Figure Skating Championship, Kerrigan practiced at Detroit’s Cobo Arena when a man suddenly attacked her with a police baton. A Chicago-based sports and entertainment company, Intersport, happened to be the only camera rolling, allowing them to capture footage of Kerrigan’s response immediately following the attack as she cried “Why? Why?” over and over again. The image quickly became one of the most infamous moments in Olympic history. Intersport eventually sold the tape to ABC News but continues to license the footage to this day.
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Twenty years later, the footage is still a point of fascination. The sports controversy caught worldwide attention and manages to find its way back into the spotlight around the time of each Winter Olympics. This year, more than a dozen requests rolled in over the months leading up to Sochi 2014. In the end, ESPN and NBC Sports licensed the footage to air it in a recent documentary on the incident. Charles Besser, President and CEO of Intersport, tells Crain's Chicago businessthat they plan on making a final documentary of the event on its 25th anniversary.
Shane Stant was arrested eight days after the assault on Kerrigan. Stant was hired by rival Tonya Harding’s ex-husband, Jeff Gillooly, who was implicated with planning the assault. Although Kerrigan’s injury forced her to withdraw from the U.S. Championship, she earned her spot on the Olympic team and became an Olympic silver medalist in 1994. The fame acquired from the attack soon led to other professional opportunities earning Kerrigan millions of dollars.