Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like home – except maybe for five-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton has suffered a major backlash from his native Great Britain, particularly from residents past and present of his hometown of Stevenage, about 30 miles north of London.
During Sunday’s annual BBC Sports Personality of the Year show, Hamilton, who earned his fifth F1 title this year, referred to his hometown in a less than flattering way.
“It’s been a really long journey, a dream for us all, as a family, to do something different, to get out of the slums,” Hamilton said.
Almost immediately realizing he misspoke, Hamilton quickly tried to correct himself, adding, “Well, we would say it’s not the slums, but just come out from somewhere and do something.”
The 33-year-old Hamilton’s “slums” comment set the social media world on fire.
According to the United Kingdom’s Daily Star newspaper, here are some of those comments:
* Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor said residents felt “very offended” at Hamilton’s comments and also called them “disappointing.” Taylor added, “He clearly realized what he had said and tried to correct it but sadly the people of our town, many of whom admire and support him, felt very offended.”
* Hamilton’s former babysitter said he was “shocked” at Hamilton’s words, calling Stevenage “charming and peaceful.”
* One Twitter user wrote: “Lewis Hamilton describing Stevenage as a slum [laughing emoji]. What an absolute toolbag.”
* Another Twitter user said: “Lewis Hamilton has just insulted EVERYONE in his home town of Stevenage!! It is NOT a ‘SLUM’ you t***!!”
* Added another Twitter user: “@LewisHamilton Are you for real?! Get your head out of your own a***! Slums?! I’ve lost a lot respect for you. Everyone knows that’s not true. #Stevenage #Hometown #SPOTY.”
* And one more tweet: “When your first friends and family are from the ‘slums’, don’t alienate your roots.. There’s worse places to live #stevenage #lewishamilton.”
Hamilton has not responded to the criticism nor publicly apologized for his comments. He finished second in the annual awards ceremony, as Tour de France Geraint Thomas captured top honors.
Given that Hamilton now lives in Monaco due to U.K. tax laws, and throw in the current drama, perhaps Hamilton will heed the author Thomas Wolfe’s words: “You can’t go home again.”