Ben Simmons sent a message Tuesday night when he wore a pair of pale yellow kicks and two words scrawled on them: “Egg Boy”.
Simmons was paying tribute to Will Connolly, who’s become known as “Egg Boy”, the Australian teenager who was arrested after smashing an egg on far-right senator Fraser Anning following the massacre in New Zealand.
Anning, a long-time member of the ultra-nationalist “One Nation Party”, has repeatedly used his platform to decry Muslim immigration in Australia and frequently uses his social media accounts to promote Islamophobia. Anning took to Twitter to insinuate that Muslim immigration, not far-right extremism, led to the racist attacks in Christchurch that left 50 people dead.
Egg Boy has become a divisive figure in Australian society for his actions. Conservatives and proponents of civility have denounced the egging, but for many, Connolly has become a folk hero who stood up for what they view as core tenets of Australia like diversity, inclusion, and immigration.
Simmons showed his support for Connolly on Instagram shortly following the egging, commenting on a photo of the teenager and calling him an “Australian legend.” A GoFundMe was established to give money to the victims of the shooting, as well as Connolly, should he need funds for a legal defense (Anning is pressing charges for the egging). After learning of the crowdfunding movement, Connolly told the creator to take any money earmarked for him and give it to Muslim charities.
The incident is sparking debate not only among everyday Australians, but also in parliament, where some politicians are pushing to remove hate speech from politics and censuring Anning for his remarks.
In repping Egg Boy on his shoes, Simmons did more than just shout out a teenager. He took a stand and used his considerable clout to make a statement about the Australia he believes in.