A former NFL player who bills himself as the ‘anti-Colin Kaepernick’ has been elected to the US House of Representatives.
Burgess Owens, running as a Republican, beat the Democrat incumbent Ben McAdams in a close race that was finally called on Monday. Owens will represent Utah’s fourth district, which covers the suburbs of Salt Lake City.
Owens was one of the first black players to represent the University of Miami football team, where he also majored in biology and chemistry. He went on to have a 10-year career in the NFL with the New York Jets and the Oakland Raiders, with whom he won Super Bowl XV. After leaving the league as a “cocky liberal” he says his political views became “very conservative”.
On his campaign site he pitched himself as “as a cultural counterweight to the hatred that former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has spewed for the last few years”. He also described Black Lives Matter as “a Marxist organization”. During an appearance on Fox News he said: “[Black Lives Matter] hate God, they hate the family unit, the nuclear family, and they hate capitalism.” Black Lives Matter is a decentralized movement and does not have official policies.
Owens has also suggested there may be merit in the QAnon movement, a baseless conspiracy theory that posits Satan-worshipping liberal elites secretly rule the world while engaging in child trafficking. Owens brought up the subject during a radio interview in October. “What I find interesting is anytime you bring up child trafficking, we get from the left a word called QAnon,” said Owens. He continued: “One of the things we need to recognize with the left is if they ever say the word conspiracy, let’s look into it much deeper because there’s something they’re trying to keep us away from.” His spokesman later said Owens does not believe in the theory.
On Monday, he thanked his supporters on Twitter. “Thank you Utah voters,” he wrote. “I’m honored to have the opportunity to serve. I promise to be an open ear for all Utahns and to serve with all I have. Now, it’s time to get to work.”
Two other NFL veterans currently serve in the House of Representatives. Former Tennessee Titans linebacker Collin Allred is a Democrat for Texas’ 32nd district, while Anthony Gonzalez, who played for the Indianapolis Colts in the Super Bowl XLIV, is a Republican for Ohio’s 16th district.