If you don’t know who Brandi Chastain is by name alone, I bet you know her by her legendary celebration. Sports Illustrated anointed it as “the most memorable goal celebration in US soccer history.”
Let’s set the scene. It’s the 1999 FIFA Women’s World Cup final. The heat is on, both metaphorically and literally, in a packed Rose Bowl stadium in Los Angeles . The US women are taking on China, tied 2-2 heading into penalty kicks, one kick away from potentially deciding the fate of the two nations. Brandi Chastain is up. If she scores, the US women win the World Cup. This is the moment every young soccer player grows up fantasizing about in his or her backyard.
With the weight of the United States Women’s National Team on her shoulders, Chastain scored, and in doing so won the World Cup for her team and her country.
Incredibly, had she not done what she did after she scored, there’s a very good chance you would neither know her name nor her story. After Chastain scored, she took her jersey off, whipped it around her head, and in one of the most iconic moments in American sports history, dropped to her knees, pumped her fists, and screamed in triumph. After the match, that single image made its way to the covers of Newsweek, Sports Illustrated, and Time.
Something else happened in that moment. Because of that celebration, Chastain became a brand. We know who she is, not for the goal or even her career, but for the celebration. As an athlete, you can look at that as misguided or unfortunate. But as a brand marketer or an individual looking to establish his or her brand post-athletics, that should be seen as a lesson.
Every second on the field, court, or diamond counts. If the event is big enough, you can change your brand forever in an instant. No matter your sport, no matter your role on the team, no matter your history up until that point. With a single celebration, Chastain crashed one of the biggest parties in sports and secured her place as one of the most beloved athletes in US sports history.
EVENT OF MASS SCALE: FIFA Women’s World Cup
DISRUPTIVE MOMENT: Brandi Chastain’s Shirtless Celebration
INFLUENCER: Brandi Chastain