Without a doubt, Tony Hawk is the most famous skateboarder in the world.
I grew up watching him win nearly every competition in the sport. He did tricks other skateboarders couldn’t land. I mean, he invented tricks on vert that no one thought were possible.
He didn’t just dominate the sport, either. He championed a billion-dollar video game franchise, started a foundation, and pursued countless business ventures.
All of this has made the name Tony Hawk synonymous with the sport, for skateboarding fanatics and casual observers alike.
But Tony Hawk’s face? Apparently it’s not as well-known as his name. At least, not these days.
Tony Hawk Writes About His Funny Encounters on Twitter
In recent years, Hawk has been using his Twitter account to share some of the funnier encounters he has had.
In Athens, Greece at a Cure concert, walk up to bar to order drinks.
Guy next to me: “you gotta get in the back of that long line to buy drink tokens”
me: ok thanks
him: hey, you’re American!
me: I am
him: I know you but I don’t KNOW you
me: It happens
him: is your name Kelly?
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) July 17, 2019
“I think sometimes people, I assume, get excited, and they’re trying to register it… so they’ll just sort of say things without really giving them critical thought,” Hawk told Business Insider. “I think that’s usually what ends up happening where it’s like, ‘You’re, uh, T-T-Tom Brady!’ Where it just comes out because they know there’s some sports star whose name starts with a T.”
guy at restaurant: “you famous?”
me: I think that depends on who you ask
him: “anyone ever tell you that you look like Tom Brady?”
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) August 17, 2017
He admits that it happens way more often than he actually writes about on social media, but he shares the best ones, at least.
“Most of the time those are the things I like to share, because they’re much more humorous interactions,” Hawk continued.
He Gets Mistaken For Plenty of Other People
TSA agent (staring intently): I’m trying to figure out who you look like before checking your ID.
TSA: that cyclist Armstrong!
Nearby agent: that ain’t Lance Armstrong
Me: he’s right
TSA: oh you look like that skateboarder (checks ID). Same last name too! Crazy!
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) August 21, 2018
According to Hawk, he’s been mistaken for other sports celebs, like Lance Armstrong, and fictional characters, too — Tony Stark, anyone?
Guy approaches me while standing in line at coffee shop in Cancún.
Him: my friend says you are a famous person. Is that true?
Me: that depends on your definition of fame
Him: will you show up on Google if I search your name?
Him (typing into phone): you are Tony Stark?
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) April 3, 2019
He Gets Mistaken For Himself, Too
My favorite has got to be when he gets told he looks like Tony Hawk.
At Disneyland with kids, waiting in line for churros. Girl in front of me: “you look like Tony Hawks”
me: Is that good?
her, nonplussed: “I guess so”
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) June 15, 2019
Hawk says that he doesn’t usually tell people who he is, unless they explicitly ask.
“It feels pretentious to be like ‘don’t you know who I am?’ I’ve never subscribed to that sort of attitude,” Hawk said.
To clarify: my legal name is Anthony
TSA agent checks my ID, looks at me, looks at ID, looks back at me quizzically and loudly says
“Tony Hawk’s my favorite skater”
Me: I’ll tell him.
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) June 21, 2018
“Sometimes people will be upset when they find out later. They’ll be like, ‘why didn’t you tell me?,'” He continued, saying he usually (hilariously) responds, “Well, you didn’t ask me!”
Guy asks for a picture with me, woman nearby says “I don’t know who you are”
me: I don’t expect you to
her: what do you do?
me: I’m a pro skateboarder
her: are you from Huntington Beach?
me: no, I’m from San Diego
her: so you’re not that guy with red hair that won the Olympics?
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) October 27, 2018
Though even the folks who realize they’re in the presence of Tony Hawk often botch the interaction anyway.
Kid at skatepark:
“Are you Tony Hawk?”
me: I am
him: “no you’re not”
me: ok, I’m not
him: “but are you, FOR REAL?”
me: I am, for real
him: I thought you’d look younger
me: ME TOO
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) July 29, 2019
I guess we can’t really blame people, though. Hawk has been retired from professionally competing since 1999. You know, the same year he became the very first person ever to land a 900 during an event.
guy on escalator: Hey are you Tony Hawk?
him: you still skate?
me: yes, quite often
him: but you’re not that recognizable!
me: I’m not sure what that means… but you recognized me, so here we are
him: [blank stare]
– escalator ends –
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) June 12, 2018
Most recently, Hawk partnered with Dell and American Express to speak about authenticity in business at Dreamforce in San Francisco. According to him, authenticity is essential in experiential marketing and developing an enduring and successful brand.
I think he’s probably right, considering how his fame quite literally precedes him — as evidenced in his many interactions with strangers.
Meeting a friend for dinner, parking lot full, found a spot a few blocks away and skated to restaurant. Guy at crosswalk: “are you Tony Hawk?”
him: “I can do a kickflip”
him: “I wish you had your camera crew so I could show you”
me: I’m off the clock
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) July 25, 2019
Hawk Isn’t Complaining
Of course, Hawk posts his interactions as a way for the rest of us to laugh with him. He’s certainly not complaining at all, though he says that’s sometimes the misconception.
TSA agent (checking my ID): “Hawk, like that skateboarder Tony Hawk!”
Her: “Cool, I wonder what he’s up to these days”
— Tony Hawk (@tonyhawk) March 21, 2017
“I get recognized all the time, to the point where it’s kind of strange. I never imagined I’d ever be famous from skateboarding,” he told Business Insider.
“Even today, I was grocery shopping, and two different people stopped me just to say what’s up and one guy congratulated me for being in the California Hall of Fame and that kind of thing I never expect or anticipate. But it’s cool!”