A U.S. Olympic figure skater who criticized Vice President Mike Pence in January just got hired on as an NBC correspondent for the remainder of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.
On Sunday, NBC spokesperson Greg Hughes revealed to USA Today that Rippon will serve as a network correspondent on a variety of different mediums from television to social media.
While it is not uncommon for the network to hire athletes as correspondents during the Olympics, the addition of Rippon is notable due to his past criticisms of the vice president.
As reported by CNN Money, Rippon, an openly gay athlete, was critical of Pence’s past as governor of Indiana when he signed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The act allowed businesses in the state of Indiana to refuse service to gay and lesbian customers on the grounds of religious freedoms protected under the First Amendment.
In a January interview, Rippon was asked for his thoughts on Pence leading the 2018 U.S. Olympic delegation to South Korea.
“You mean Mike Pence, the same Mike Pence that funded gay conversion therapy? I’m not buying it,” Rippon said.
He added: “I don’t think he has a real concept of reality. To stand by some of the things that Donald Trump has said and for Mike Pence to say he’s a devout Christian man is completely contradictory.”
The figure skater’s statements prompted a response from Pence’s press secretary Alyssa Farah who claimed that Rippon’s statements were “totally false” and had “no basis in fact.”
Rippon responded to the press secretary’s comments with a tweet showing quotes from the then-governor’s campaign website.
I will let the VP’s words speak for themselves. You can very easily find these quotes and more online. His position and intentions are clear. pic.twitter.com/XmH0v9pqua
— Adam Rippon (@Adaripp) January 20, 2018
As noted by The Indianapolis Star, the last line was the most controversial as LGBTQ activists believed it to mean that Pence supports gay conversion therapy.
Rippon went on to note in a series of tweets that he has “nothing to say” to the vice president, and that Pence “has had little effect” on his life.
“I didn’t speak up for myself, I spoke up because it’s important to give a voice to those who feel they don’t have one.”
Rippon’s accusations reportedly led to an offer being extended by the vice president’s camp to meet with the Olympic skater, according to David Baden, Rippon’s agent.
“That was 100 percent true,” Baden told USA Today’s, Christine Brennan. “We were contacted by the appropriate channels that the vice president wanted to talk to Adam.”
Pence took the high road in the situation and posted a tweet wishing Rippon well in the Olympics, according to The Western Journal.
But after the opening ceremony, Rippon and slopestyle skier Gus Kenworthy, an openly gay athlete as well, posted a photo on Instagram of the two hugging each other. However, the photo was also used as an opportunity to take another swipe at Pence.
The caption under the photo read: “I feel incredibly honored to be here in Korea competing for the US and I’m so proud to be representing the LGBTQ community alongside this amazing guy! Eat your heart out, Pence.”
“The #OpeningCeremony is a wrap and the 2018 Winter Olympic Gaymes (sic) are officially under way!” Kenworthy wrote on Feb. 9. “I feel incredibly honored to be here in Korea competing for the US and I’m so proud to be representing the LGBTQ community alongside this amazing Guy! Eat your heart out, Pence. #TeamUSA #TeamUSGay”
Pence didn’t provide a response to the photo.
Truth and Accuracy
We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.