As Americans head to the polls to perhaps make history and elect the nation's first black president, history is also made across the pond. Lewis Hamilton wins the Formula One, becoming the youngest race car driver and the first black to ever have win the exclusive championship.
The 23-year-old won the Brazilian Grand Prix with his McLaren Mercees by "only by the skin of his teeth," narrowly squeezing past Germany's Timo Glock at the finish line.
Experts predict he will see a "hike in his salary of up to 30 million pounds" or $47.5 million a year. But while the international media hype grows larger, many in the British public do not like the flashy young driver. The Times describes Hamilton as "one of the most divisive British sporting figures for a generation."
Even though Hamilton is one of a select band of sportsmen whose appeal transcends national boundaries, his handlers will be aware that continued unpopularity at home could seriously taint his global image and hamper the flow of endorsements. Has Hamilton’s race got anything to do with the problem? Although this is undoubtedly the cause of his unpopularity with a small group of Formula One fans outside Britain, particularly in Spain, where Hamilton endured racial abuse from spectators during testing in February, there is little to suggest this is in any way responsible for the coolness felt towards Hamilton by large sections of the British public.
The suggestion has been made the animosity is fueled by jealousy—Hamilton is very good looking, makes a truckload of cash, has the fastest cars, and, dates Pussycat Dolls lead singer Nicole Scherzinger. That all may be true. But it's still too simplistic to totally reject race as a factor behind much of the coolness toward the young champion. Lewis Hamilton has been a model gentleman and sportsman.