As the U.S. men’s national team get ready to take on Ghanathis weekend, the most famous artifact in American soccer history is on my mind. You don’t have to be a soccer aficionado to figure out that I’m talking about Brandi Chastain’s bra.
Almost 11 years ago, Chastain grabbed the world’s attention when, after scoring on a penalty kick to give the American women the World Cup title, she took off her shirt – just like the men do – and revealed her black sports bra and her rock hard abs.
The moment and the photo are well known.
The travails of the bra? Not so much.
So I called Chastain, who at the age of 41 is still playing professional soccer, to find out exactly where it was.
The short answer?
In a well preserved case hanging above her guest bedroom.
The long answer? It took a long time to get there.
So let’s start at the beginning.
Although the women’s team was sponsored by Nike , Chastain just happened to wear the black prototype Nike bra for the finals that day against China because it was at the top of the pile.
“It wasn’t even on the market,” Chastain said.
After Chastain scored on that fifth penalty kick, it was pure adrenaline.
“Why did I do it?” Chastain says, when asked about taking off her shirt. “I call it temporary insanity. It was the ultimate moment and I was just in such shock.”
The iconic moment was forever memorialized thanks a Sports Illustrated cover, but predictably, collectors came calling.
“I got offered quite a large amount of money for it,” Chastain said. “It was in the hundreds of thousands of dollars.”
But she passed. Why?
“I just thought it would send the wrong message about cashing in on the moment,” Chastain said. “So we decided to let it breathe for a while.”
When Chastain said she let it breathe, she means she put it back in her drawer, believe it or not. And actually wore it when the laundry bin filled up.
“It’s actually lived a non-celebrity type life,” said Chastain, who spends much of her off-the-field time devoted to helping young women through the Bay Area Women’s Sports Initiative.
The bra remained in her drawer, until she heard about the Sports Museum of America in New York. She loaned to them. But before long, the museum filed for bankruptcy and Chastain needed help to wrestle it back.
“It was a big fight, I had to fill out a lot of paperwork,” Chastain said. “My team (the FC Gold Pride) helped me rescue it from a holding cell in New Jersey.”
Chastain got her bra back last year and – for the 10th anniversary of the World Cup win – her teammates convinced her to finally retire it and put it behind glass.
So where does it go from here?
“The more I think about it, I think I’m going to give it to my son,” Chastain said. “It’s a piece I’d probably like him to have. That being said, I could also think about selling it if it meant putting him through college with it or leading to a down payment on a house.”
As crazy as that sounds, as iconic as that moment was, it’s easy to see how plenty of collectors would pony up the money to make that happen.