Last week, Tony Hawk and canned water company Liquid Death generated quite the social-media stir when they teamed up to release a limited-edition deck infused with Hawk’s real blood.
Only 100 boards were created, with two full vials of Hawk’s blood mixed into the design’s red paint. With 10 percent of profits going to 5 Gyres, a non-profit organization that focuses on reducing plastics pollution, and Hawk’s foundation, The Skatepark Project, it was a bold, if irreverent, collaboration that served Hawk’s driving motivation: raising money for causes close to his heart.
The $500 decks sold out almost immediately, and while there were some repulsed detractors, the campaign was mostly lauded online.
But not everyone was onboard, including, initially, rapper Lil Nas X. This spring, Lil Nas X released his “Satan Shoes,” Nike
There was a social media outcry—largely based on the shoes’ Satanic imagery—as well as a Nike lawsuit.
When Hawk’s announcement was not met with nearly as much outrage, Lil Nas X implied on Twitter that there was a double standard at play:
In an Instagram post by the account @rap announcing the blood-infused decks, Lil Nas X responded, “nah he tweakin,” which for days on end became social media’s prevailing meme.
On Friday, at the unveiling of a new skatepark he and Vans were donating to the Salt Lake City community, Hawk told me he “understands Lil Nas X’s perspective.” And on Monday, the two had put the saga behind them, releasing a TikTok video in which “Lil Nas X” demonstrates some popular vert skateboarding tricks (with Hawk serving as the actual stunt double) on the Liquid Death “Hawk Blood” board.
“Nah WE tweakin,” reads the Instagram caption.
For Hawk, the actual inspiration behind the Liquid Death deck came from a 1977 KISS comic book that used real blood in the ink.
“I take on projects if I feel like it’s something that will truly have an effective change in terms of raising awareness or raising funds for the charities that I believe in, namely The Skatepark Project. But in the instance of Liquid Death, it just sounded fun,” Hawk told me. “The inspiration did come from the old KISS comic book. I was a kid when that happened and I wanted one so badly.”
“I’ve definitely bled enough for the sport that it wasn’t a stretch to give some away,” Hawk added.
On Saturday, Hawk staged his inaugural Tony Hawk’s Vert Alert, a new vert skateboarding contest held in partnership with Vans, in Salt Lake City.
After the event, which included men’s and women’s finals and a best trick contest in which Hawk competed, attempting and—finally—landing a frontside Caballerial revert for only the second time in his career, Hawk changed out of his sweat-drenched shirt.
As fans in the stands nearby clamored for his autograph, Hawk tossed his pads and his shirt into the crowd, prompting shrieks of joy.
“If they can’t have your blood, at least they can have your sweat,” I remarked to Hawk.
Hawk laughed. “I’d rather have blood.”