She’s not an athlete. She’s an IT consultant from Chicago. And she had just seen the documentary, “Back on Board: Greg Louganis“, the HBO documentary about the diving legend. When she sees the scene of Louganis walking though the Swimming Hall of Fame, passing by a series of Wheaties cereal boxes on display, he says “never got a Wheaties box – “In that moment,” Sondgerath writes, “I was inspired to start a campaign asking General Mills to ‘Put Greg Louganis on the Wheaties Box’.
Julie Sondgerath went to Change.org and submitted a petition that over 40,000 people signed on to, including me. Six months later, on April 5, Sondgerath got word: “I’m proud to announce that the campaign was a success!,” wrote Sondgerath on change.org. “Today, Wheaties will have a press release to unveil a WheatiesLegends Campaign to begin with a legacy photo of Greg Louganis on the Wheaties box! Congratulations to Greg, as well as Janet Evans and Edwin Moses! I can share with you that he is beside himself with excitement!”
No other man has won gold in both the 3-meter springboard and 10-meter platform in two consecutive Olympics, doing so in Los Angeles in 1984 and Seoul in 1988. Louganis had often wondered that the reason he didn’t get on the Wheaties box, or perhaps other financially lucrative sponsorship deals, was the rumors at the time that he was gay. In fact, Louganis is now openly gay, having come out in 1994.
General Mills has downplayed the reasons for now placing Louganis on the box. They said that there are many athletes who deserve to be recognized, which is why they also chose to create boxes for Olympic legends Janet Evans and Edwin Moses. The New York Times quotes Mike Siemienas, manager of brand media at General Mills, saying that the choices were “not about who gets the most votes or who gets petitions.”
But as Will Sweeney, a writer and producer of Back on Board, he said that Sondgerath’s petition was the impetus. “Is there any other way to interpret it, he said.”
The bottom line, Louganis is finally getting the respect he deserves. And he’s grateful.
To NPR, Louganis said, “[It’s] so incredible to be honored with the likes of Edwin Moses — we were in our first Olympic games in 1976 together. Janet Evans — we trained at Mission Viejo together — I watched her grow up.”
Congratulations Greg Louganis, Janet Evans and Edwin Moses! Congratulations Julie Sondgerath!