It was one of the most photographed and talked about sporting events of the 20th Century, a moment that lifted a nation—and a rising sport—and propelled a young star athlete into the stratosphere.
The moment took place in the 1999 Women’s World Cup Final, and the athlete was Brandi Chastain. Her penalty shootout goal propelled team USA to the gold medal, and her spontaneous celebration—ripping off her jersey, leaving her with just a black bra—was global news.
Since then, Chastain has gone on to be one of the most decorated and accomplished American soccer players in history, helping the U.S. capture two Women's World Cup championships, two Olympic gold medals, and an Olympic silver medal. But she will probably always be best known for that one moment when her joy bubbled over into one of the most iconic photos in sports history.
While still keeping an eye on soccer as an Olympic and Women’s World Cup come into focus in 2016 and 2015 respectively, now Chastain will have some fun and help raise awareness for breast cancer this Saturday night at midnight on Randall's Island in New York. As an honorary ambassador for the first-ever North American debut of Walk the Walk (a global initiative founded by cancer survivor and advocate Nina Barough), the Californian will kick off the event by recreating that seminal moment.
She will take off her shirt and sport a custom bra (appropriately enough) decorated and unveiled that night, with a USA Soccer theme to be auctioned off for cancer research.
"While it’s certainly not something that you always want to be known for only, it was a moment that was a springboard to so many positive things that I don't look back, it's all good and it was such an amazing time I was really glad to have been a part of it," the soccer star turned mom told Bleacher Report this week. "The first time I did it was a spontaneous reaction to the moment. It wasn't pre-planned—it just happened and never did I ever think it would live on forever like it has."
It will not be the first time she has recreated the moment, Chastain said. One time was on the 10 year anniversary with the photographer who took the memorable shot that day. But it is also not an everyday occurrence, and the ability to raise money and awareness for breast cancer was key this time as well.
"I actually try not to do it, it's really personal and was so spontaneous that to do it every time someone asks wouldn't be genuine or sincere or even for the right reasons,” she added. “I have moved on and done so many other things, but every once in a while it seems right, this is one of those times and it should be great fun and a great event."
She will not be alone in sporting a bra that night for charity. The MoonWalk will have women and manpower walking and running through the streets of Manhattan wearing brightly decorated bras to inspire and encourage others to get fit, have fun, and raise money for Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center’s Breast Examination Center in Harlem. Chastain, whose aunt was diagnosed last year with breast cancer, will lead the walk through its first few miles.
Aside from raising money and speaking, the World Cup hero continues to be very active in the game she loves, and is looking forward to the next chapter of women’s soccer success, starting with the continued growth of the latest women’s soccer league in the U.S., the National Women’s Soccer League. The league is funded in part by USA Soccer, which is a departure from the two previously failed attempts at a women’s pro league, and the response thus far has been growing and Chastain is bullish on the future.
"I'm thrilled that there is a pro league for women again here in the States, and that it has the support of USA Soccer,” she added. “It lifts the sport around the world and hopefully helps American soccer continue to grow as we move towards the World Cup and the Olympics.”
Amazingly, the US hasn't won the World Cup since 1999, so it is Chastain’s hope, as well as the thousands of others who support and cheer passionately for the sport, that all the efforts going on now will lead to another memorable moment, shirts on or not.
However, this weekend it is hoped that another seminal moment will be created. This time, with a little thought by one of America’s trailblazing athletes, with an impact that will delight sports fans and most importantly, help those suffering with cancer. For all the details on Moonwalk check out http://walkthewalkamerica.com/about-the-walk/
Jerry Milani is a featured columnist at Bleacher Report. All quotes were obtained firsthand unless noted.