Tony Hawk’s life changed after he started working with Activision on the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series. Already a big name in the world of skateboarding, partnering with Activision on the skateboarding video game franchise bearing his name elevated him to a household name. Along with this success, Hawk faced scrutiny from those in skating circles–he was labeled a “sellout.”
Hawk recalled these early days in an appearance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast recently. With the success of the game series, Hawk also got a suite of endorsement deals from gigantic companies such as McDonald’s and Jeep. This only fueled his critics.
“In those days, skating was very much a novelty. In the ’90s, X-Games came into play, and then all of a sudden my name was well-known, not mainstream, but getting there. Then our video game came out, and it was just like, ‘Oh, you’re just a sellout,'” Hawk said. “Because of the video game and the endorsements that followed from that. I was doing stuff for Jeep, for McDonald’s, for Doritos, and they were like, ‘Oh, you’re just a sellout.'”
But Hawk maintains he’s never changed his value systems–he was eating McDonald’s before he made it big, and he’s still eating there today.
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“When I turned pro at age 14, if McDonald’s had asked me to be in a commercial, I would have jumped on it, are you kidding me?” Hawk said. “I was eating McDonald’s my whole life–I still do. It was more that they somehow thought I changed my values. But I haven’t changed my value system–it’s just that I’m getting these opportunities, finally.”
According to CNBC, Activision offered Hawk a flat rate of $500,000 for the first Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater, which at the time was the most lucrative offer the skater had ever seen. Hawk rejected this offer and instead opted for a deal that paid him royalties tied to the success of the series. That ended up being a very smart move, as the game spawned numerous sequels and is estimated to have driven $1.4 billion in revenue to date.
In a 2018 interview with The Nine Club (below), Hawk recalled having a meeting with Activision where he was handed a $4 million royalty check for one year’s worth of royalties. “The video game changed my life,” Hawk said.
Activision is bringing back the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater series this year with the release of a remaster package featuring Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater 1 + 2.
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