Tony Hawk (Anthony Frank Hawk)
May 12, 1968 in Carlsbad, California, USA
Encinitas, California, USA
approximately $140 million as of 2019
One of the most influential skateboarders of all time, Tony Hawk is a living legend and pioneer of modern vertical skateboarding. He is the first ever to land the 900 – twice – once in 1999, and then again in 2016, at 48. He has skated across the floor of the New York Stock Exchange and on the grounds of the White House (yes, legally). He is also known for his philanthropic work with the Tony Hawk Foundation, which helps to build skateparks in underprivileged areas. Moreover, Hawk has featured in an episode of The Simpsons. The guy is even his own video game.
Born 1968 in San Diego, California, Hawk was hyperactive with an unusually high intelligence quotient of 144. At nine, Hawk’s older brother gave him a skateboard, which would serve as an outlet for all his excess energy and change his life forever. In 1982, by the age of 14, the prodigy became a professional skateboarder, and would hold down the world champion title for 12 years in a row. He would go on to win more than 70 skateboarding contests and developing over 100 signature tricks in his 17-year professional career.
But the popularity of skateboarding was waning in the early 1990s – also his early winnings from sponsors and contests – and he was getting by with $5-a-day Taco Bell allowance at one point. It prompted Hawk to launch skateboarding company Birdhouse, together with pro-skateboarder Per Welinder. And so came the advent of extreme sports, which fueled a new interest in skateboarding. Hawk competed in the first Extreme Games – later simply called X Games – in 1995 and won gold, which landed him back in the spotlight. He repeated the feat for the 1997 X Games.
Then, at the 1999 installment of X Games, Hawk made skateboard history as the first skateboarder to complete the 900 – where the skater rotates about two and a half turns in mid-air. A gravity-defying trick Hawk himself invented. He succeeded after attempting it tirelessly for over a decade, resulting in several broken ribs, concussions and lost teeth. It was one of the greatest moments in the sport’s history and a personal victory. After this he retired from competition.
Off the back of this, the timing couldn’t be better to introduce the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater video game series by Activision. The series became insanely popular surpassing $1.4 billion in sales across PlayStation, Nintendo 64 and Dreamcast – one of the most successful video game series ever made. It propelled the sport to a new fanbase and into the mainstream, inspiring a new generation at a time when skateboarding was struggling.
In 2002 Hawk launched the extreme sports tour called Tony Hawk’s Boom Boom HuckJam, featuring freestyle motocross, skateboarding, and BMX. This year he also created the Tony Hawk Foundation, in response to the lack of safe and legal skateparks in America, especially in low-income areas. To date, the foundation has awarded over $9.2-million to 623 public skatepark projects in all 50 States, and $100,000 to support the Skateistan program in Afghanistan, Cambodia, and South Africa helping to push the growth of skating internationally.
Hawk teamed up with bicycle distributor Dynacraft in 2007 to launch Tony Hawk BMX bikes, affordable bikes available to cop at Walmart.
In 2009 he went on the Homecoming with Rick Reilly show on the sports network ESPN, and he was also invited to President Barack Obama’s June 2009 Father’s Day celebration to skate on White House grounds. It was the first time in history anyone has done that with permission. That same year he was inducted into the Skateboarding Hall of Fame.
Elsewhere, Hawk has been an omnipresent skate-figure in film and TV since the mid-80s. He’s featured in an array of titles (from Thrashin’, Police Academy 4: Citizens on Patrol, Jackass, Lords of Dogtown to CSI: Miami), and worked with Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, going on several kid’s shows, including Sesame Street, The Simpsons and Fox’s Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.
2019 marks the year Tony Hawk launched his own streetwear label, the Tony Hawk Signature Line. And where better to debut it than at a special exhibition at Paris Fashion Week. The showcase included photographs of Hawk, captured by iconic photographer Anton Corbijn.
Hawk’s unwavering tenacity and resilience is inspirational – he is a role model far beyond the realms of his craft, one of the most recognizable athletes in the US and a prolific figure within modern pop and street culture. Today he is the father of four – his eldest Riley Hawke is also a professional skateboarder – and lives north of San Diego with his wife. He still rides, gives skateboarding demonstrations, works on new tricks and breaks new ground with the Tony Hawk Foundation.