Appearing on the scene as if it were something out of The Onion, the official Mr. Olympia website launched a page with an active counter entitled, “Will Kai Sign,” and it is an obvious dig at the absence of Kai Greene at the 2015 gala event. But this is the alleged Super Bowl of bodybuilding and has Joe Weider’s name attached to it. A tacky and pathetic marketing tactic like this has no place in professional sports whatsoever.
It’s even more cringe-worthy with the line, “Olympia contracts going out today! Countdown to the deadline… will Kai sign?” The ‘deadline’ for the IFBB pros to sign and return their Olympia contracts is May 13 at 5 PM pacific time, but we all recall the soap opera from last year with the ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ deadlines. So there are more opportunities for this to drag on through the summer if Greene does not in fact sign and return right away.
Some of the fan reaction to this has been predictably negative, with Instagram comments such as, “What a scumbag move,” and “Unprofessional pigs.” Greene is by far and large the most popular bodybuilder on the competitive circuit and he has a loyal fanbase. Regardless of who was at fault last September, the Olympia promoters took a PR hit by Greene not competing. Even though AMI seemed to back up their claim of not being at fault with the statement by Robin Chang, the perception from the Greene camp was that he was in fact the victim.
The contest itself suffered without the second best bodybuilder in the world there to give champion Phil Heath a run for his money. Perennial bridesmaid Greene has been a great rival the last few years and he seems to be charging up for a huge showdown by winning three consecutive Arnold Classics in a few short weeks. But Greene has been coy about the impending Olympia.
If he and AMI are all in cahoots with this little game, then shame on both parties. Bodybuilding fans deserve better than this and kudos to the ones who posted their frustration. But if AMI is behind this without Greene’s knowledge, then how bad will they look if he sits out again? And it will be even worse if Greene uses this as one of the reasons.
For a company that had two hiccups last time around (in addition to the Greene debacle, AMI was also sued by their title sponsor, Ultimate Nutrition, for double dipping with Amazon Sports Nutrition), they seemed to be headed in the right direction by bringing in Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to help them with the promotion. But after a ridiculous decision like this, would anyone be surprised if the WWE superstar bails because he has had enough scripted nonsense for one year?