Thursday, January 27, 2011

Iowa's Matt Gatens, Beauty Queen

Exactly two weeks ago, an eagle-eyed reader from Evanston, Illinois, a dedicated fan of the Northwestern University Wildcats (and a law student at Northwestern), brought to my attention startling news: University Of Iowa Men’s Basketball player Matt Gatens has recently been entering beauty pageants—and, of all things, winning them!

I was genuinely astonished when my reader—whose eye had been caught by the announcement last autumn that a one-woman show about Broadway legend Chita Rivera was in development, a one-woman show that will star Gatens—alerted me that foreign wire-service news stories on the subject of Northwestern’s 90-71 pasting of the Iowa Hawkeyes on January 12 of this year featured photographs of an overwhelmed and tearful Gatens being crowned winner of a major international beauty contest.

Upon receiving the news from Evanston, I was, to be frank, quite skeptical—until I clicked on the links my reader provided, only to encounter brief news summaries of the Northwestern-Iowa game, news summaries that indeed were accompanied by the amazing photographs below, photographs clearly and unmistakably labeled: “Iowa’s Matt Gatens”.

Until reading the news stories and seeing the photos for myself, I had had absolutely no idea that Gatens had launched a career on the pageant circuit.

Three questions immediately arose in my mind: (1) why did Gatens choose to represent Venezuela; (2) where did Gatens find such a brilliant makeup artist; and (3) why is not The Big Ten Conference making a big deal of the remarkable feat of a conference athlete winning major beauty events while actively competing in intercollegiate athletics?

No doubt the producers of “Matt Gatens As Chita!” can provide answers to my questions.

One assumption: the show’s producers believed that Gatens needed to represent a Latin country while competing on the pageant circuit, since Miss Rivera herself is Latin. Another assumption: makeup artists on Broadway apparently are even more miraculous than I had had any right to expect. A final assumption: the producers of “Matt Gatens As Chita!” wanted to capitalize on Gatens’s beauty queen status for the financial benefit of the show, and not for the financial benefit of The Big Ten Conference (a decision that must have upset Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany no end)—and have, consequently, remained in strict control of dissemination of news about Gatens’s prowess in wowing the panel of pageant judges that awarded Gatens the winner’s crown.

Normally I am no endorser of tears.

However, under the circumstances, Gatens surely may be forgiven for a small display of waterworks.

What with a major beauty title in his pocket and an important Broadway debut in a one-woman show quickly approaching, Gatens no doubt is overwhelmed by his good fortune.

Sports fans everywhere must be happy for Gatens, especially since that basketball thing never worked out particularly well for him.


  1. I saw those, too.

    Someone on the photo desk at Reuters or one of the other news agencies was drunk that night, or someone was playing a massive practical joke.

    Those photos went out all over the world until they were corrected after a day or two.

  2. Well, Matt Gatens IS a Queen. A Lady. A Bitch.

  3. Gatens is gay as a fruitcake. Put a dress on him.