(NEW YORK) — Washington Wizards center Jason Collins’ jerseys got a boost in online sales after he became the first openly gay athlete in a major U.S. team sport.
Team spokesman Scott Hall told ABC News that 100 percent of custom jerseys ordered from the team’s online store bore Collins’ name and number, 98, on the back, after Collins revealed his homosexuality in an article published on Sports Illustrated’s website on Monday.
Collins began the first-person article, “I’m a 34-year-old NBA center. I’m black. And I’m gay.”
While Hall could not reveal how many custom Collins jerseys were sold, he said that the team’s general merchandise sales and online traffic spiked following Collins’ announcement.
In a statement, the Wizards said they were proud of Collins and “his decision to live his life proudly and openly.”
“He has been a leader on and off the court and an outstanding teammate throughout his NBA career. Those qualities will continue to serve him both as a player and as a positive role model for others of all sexual orientation,” the statement said.
“I know that I, right now, am the happiest that I’ve ever been in my life,” Collins told ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos in an exclusive interview Monday night. “A huge weight has been lifted. I’ve already been out to my family and my friends, but just to, you know, sort of rip the Band-Aid off and come out on my own terms.
“I hope that every player makes a decision that leads to their own happiness,” Collins said.
Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio
Lois M. Collins, Deseret News