My best friend lives in San Diego. One day a few years ago, her teenage son came home and told her he'd made a new friend at the skate park. He talked about how they had struck up a conversation, the guy had given him some pointers, and they'd chit-chatted about this and that. "He was really cool," her son said. Then he showed her a selfie they'd taken together.
Yeah, his "new friend" was the skateboarding icon Tony Hawk. True story.
Tales of Tony Hawk not being recognized as Tony Hawk—even for people who actually know who Tony Hawk is—have become the stuff of legends. The 52-year-old made a name for himself in the skateboarding world decades ago and is credited with bringing the sport into the mainstream. Even in 2020, he was listed among the Top 10 skateboarders of all time. He's had his own video game, cameos in film and television shows, his own clothing line—everything, apparently, but a recognizable face.
The "people not recognizing Tony Hawk as Tony Hawk" thing is so common it's become a meme of its own. Hawk himself jokes about it all the time, sharing hilarious interactions he has with people on his Twitter account.
Surfing in Hawaii, paddling out to the lineup. Guy paddling next to me: “anyone tell you that you look like Tony Ha… https://t.co/AY1EMUe0Lx— Tony Hawk (@Tony Hawk) 1614470886.0
This one from a couple of years ago has re-gone viral:
Follow up: I asked him his name and he said Irving. I told him my name is Tony, to which he replied sarcastically “… https://t.co/wF36eiVbIT— Tony Hawk (@Tony Hawk) 1572481088.0
Which is just one of many similar stories. Hawk told Business Insider that it happens often, but he only shares the interactions that are the funniest.
at a Covid testing site (wearing masks), handing over paperwork for me & two of my kids: woman looking over papers:… https://t.co/ekotcS7Rj8— Tony Hawk (@Tony Hawk) 1609394739.0
TSA agent (checking my ID): "Hawk, like that skateboarder Tony Hawk!" Me: exactly Her: "Cool, I wonder what he's up to these days" Me: this— Tony Hawk (@Tony Hawk) 1490133774.0
Kid at skatepark: “Are you Tony Hawk?” me: I am him: “no you’re not” me: ok, I’m not him: “but are you, FOR REAL?”… https://t.co/bvVoSu9iye— Tony Hawk (@Tony Hawk) 1564408087.0
Now the meme itself results in some funny interactions with people.
Guy at grocery store: "you ever get mistaken for Tony Hawk... or are you Tony Hawk? Me: both!— Tony Hawk (@Tony Hawk) 1531600755.0
To clarify: each person was joking, but unaware that they were redundant.— Tony Hawk (@Tony Hawk) 1610347235.0
People's funny reactions to the meme are becoming their own meme: "I will know Tony Hawk when I see him."
I study a picture of Tony Hawk daily so I’m not one of those people he tweets about if I ever run into him— kate :) (@kate :)) 1615391578.0
@rodeoman Here ya go. I still look exactly the same 35 years later FYI https://t.co/CmPGyVQeBE— Tony Hawk (@Tony Hawk) 1609548267.0
in an effort to make sure we recognize tony hawk in public, my whole group of friends ordered wallet photos of him https://t.co/D53W3JU5VL— Samantha (@Samantha) 1614972697.0
Going to teach my kids: 1. Not to talk to strangers 2. Who Tony Hawk is 3. Tony Hawk is not a stranger, you can tal… https://t.co/ZrnPTrEgez— Shelby Hintze (@Shelby Hintze) 1615418906.0
Part of what makes the whole thing so delightful is that Tony Hawk himself is so delightful. He's down-to-earth, friendly, doesn't take himself too seriously, does a lot of connecting out in the community, and is just a genuinely likable guy.
Tony Hawk periodically trending for being wholesome, unproblematic and generally unrecognizable is one of my favorite things on Twitter.— Shawnté #BLM James, MD 😷 (@Shawnté #BLM James, MD 😷) 1615412985.0
Tony Hawk was cursed by a deity to be beloved by all but recognizable to none.— Rodi is wholesome (@Rodi is wholesome) 1615415099.0
@TheAbyssOfWhoa And nobody realized they met him until after he had left, like a ancient god who visits mortals whi… https://t.co/ebn1snWKMY— The OwOtaku (@The OwOtaku) 1615414187.0
And to top it all off, he's still a heck of a skater. Though he retired from the pro circuit in 1999, he still skateboards for fun and charity. In fact, he recently landed a 720—two full 360-degree turns in the air off a ramp—which isn't easy for even a young skater to pull off, and then auctioned the board to raise money to help build more public skateparks. (He did say it might be his last time pulling off that trick, but who knows. Good for him for pushing the age envelope.)
I can’t say for certain that this is the last one I’ll ever do, but I can’t imagine doing many more. So I’m offerin… https://t.co/95AHoT4T4v— Tony Hawk (@Tony Hawk) 1611726684.0
Tony Hawk—skating legend, father of five, nice guy to all, supporter of community parks, and man that everyone adores but nobody recognizes—thanks for being such a ray of sunshine in our world. May we know you when we see you, or at least be entertaining enough to make your Twitter account if we don't.
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