It’s only fitting that the term “wardrobe malfunction” was coined at a sporting event — the 2004 Super Bowl, in which Justin Timberlake tore away a piece of Janet Jackson’s outfit and revealed the pop star’s breast to millions of viewers. It’s fitting because so many wardrobe malfunctions — a torn uniform, an uncooperative swimsuit, a broken strap, or a full-out pantsing — occur at sporting events. Athletes — especially female athletes — perform high-intensity physical activities while wearing tiny outfits, so it’s only a matter of time before a body party pops out and an ESPN event turns into a NSFW event. Unfortunately for today’s athletes, sporting events are covered extensively by cameras, which means one split second of exposed skin will live on in the Internet for eternity.
Here’s the list of 15 outrageous wardrobe malfunctions in sports. If it weren’t for some of these athletes exposing their private parts to millions of people, we probably wouldn’t know who they were. Now, I’m not sure if that’s a good or bad thing.
15. Kerri Walsh
Female beach volleyball players wear tiny bikinis and jump around in the sand, so there’s no wondering why they sometimes suffer wardrobe malfunctions. Kerri Walsh, considered one of the greatest beach volleyball players of all time, found out for herself when she dove into the sand to reach for a ball, causing her bikini bottoms to slide down just enough to reveal the top of her buttocks. We’re guessing Walsh didn’t mind too much; she’s used to being nude in front of a camera, having posed in her birthday suit for ESPN Magazine’s The Body Issue.
14. Gillian Cooke
Gillian Cooke represents Scotland in track and field and bobsled. She’s competed in a number of Commonwealth Games and one Winter Olympics, and she took home the gold in the two-woman bobsledding event at the 2009 FIBT World Championships. However, she’s perhaps best known for her wardrobe malfunction in 2010. Just as she was about to take off, she leaned back and ripped her suit wide open, revealing her bare bottom to everyone behind her, including the cameraman. She would go on to finish the race in seventh overall.
13. Christina Tsoukala
Water polo players often suffer wardrobe malfunctions. It’s a tough and aggressive sport, where all sorts of roughhousing — tugging, pulling, biting, and kicking — goes on underneath the water. Players often grab onto their opponents’ swimsuits and pull, which can cause, let’s just say, spillage. It happens so often that it’s practically an accepted part of the game. Christina Tsoukala, a member of Greece’s national water polo team, found out firsthand at the 2008 Summer Olympics when one of her breasts popped out of her suit. The picture was captured on camera and has been locked away safely in the Internet ever since. Google Tsoukala’s name and the first thing that comes up isn’t her athletic achievements — it’s her 2008 “nip slip.”
12. LeBron James
LeBron James is one of the best players in NBA history. He’s a two-time league champion, a four-time MVP, and a twelve-time all-star, but even he’s not immune to wardrobe malfunctions (although this was more like bad timing than a wardrobe malfunction). Back in June 2015, during the NBA finals, James adjusted his shorts and accidentally exposed himself to the camera. It happened in the blink of an eye, but keen observers noticed it and soon enough pictures of James’s junk were floating around the Internet. He didn’t find out what he had done until after the game, at which point he became embarrassed but said he wanted to put it past him and focus on the series. Perhaps distracted by the embarrassing incident, James and his Caveliers would go on to lose the series to the Golden State Warriors in six games.
11. Jenifer Benitez
Jenifer Benitez is a Spanish diver who competed at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics in the 3-meter springboard event. In 2012, after completing a dive, she watched from the side of the pool as her scores came in. She then adjusted her swimsuit and accidentally revealed her breast to the camera. Not that you care, but she scored 23.80 on the dive… no word on the score she received for the flash.
10. Flavia Zoccari
Clearly something’s wrong with the way these swimsuits are made, because Flavia Zoccari is one of the many swimmers who fell victim to swimsuit malfunctions. Almost exactly like Ricky Berens’s incident, Zoccari, an Italian swimmer who competed at the 2008 Summer Olympics, was all set to jump into the pool when her suit split down the back. She tried to cover it up with her hand, but by that time she had already mooned the crowd. Unfortunately, Zoccari didn’t take it quite as well as Berens, as she broke into tears after realizing what had happened. Her swimsuit, designed by Jaked, was initially banned by the International Swimming Federation because it supposedly gave swimmers an unfair advantage. Zoccari probably wishes that the ban were never overturned.
9. Nebiat Habtemariam
This is a strange one. Nebiat Habtemariam is a long-distance runner from Eritrea, a country made up of a little over 6 million people in East Africa. She has competed in several national long-distance events, including the 2008 Summer Olympics, where she finished 48th in the Women’s Marathon. During a 5,000-meter race at Olympic Stadium, Habtemariam, who had to borrow a man’s oversized vest and was not wearing a bra, ran the entire race with part of her breasts exposed. The Greek crowd whistled and jeered as her image was broadcast on the stadium screen.
8. Olga Graf
Olga Graf has no one but herself to blame for her wardrobe malfunction. After winning the bronze medal in the 3,000-meter speed skating event at the Sochi Olympics, Graf, failing to realize that she was going commando, unzipped her suit all the way down to her stomach. She later said of the accident: “I totally forgot. We have very good suits and they are very tight. You just want to breathe and you want to take off your suit.” Luckily for her, she didn’t reveal anything aside from a bit of cleavage and her stomach, and she zipped up as soon as she realized.
7. Nora Hoffmann
Female figure skaters get thrown in the air and whipped around in circles on the ice, so perhaps tight, revealing clothing isn’t the best option. Two-time Olympian Nora Hoffmann from Hungary suffered an unfortunate wardrobe malfunction when her partner spun her around, causing her dress to slip down. Hoffmann struggled to finish her routine while simultaneously covering up. I guess that’s one way to get men to watch figure skating.
6. Ricky Berens
Ricky Berens is a US swimmer who won the gold medal in 4 x 200-meter freestyle relay at the 2008 and 2012 Summer Olympics. He’s often overshadowed by fellow US swimmers Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, but he stepped out of their shadows for a brief moment back in 2009. He wasn’t noticed by the masses for anything that he had done in the pool, but because his swimsuit split down the back, revealing his backside to the world. Berens said of the unfortunate situation: “I kind of freaked out for just a second… I felt like I was putting on a pretty good show.”
5. Venus Williams
The Williams sisters are trendsetters in the world of tennis fashion. Venus has a degree in fashion design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and she started her own fashion line, EleVen by Venus, in 2007. But most would agree that this outfit by Venus was a misfire. During the 2010 French Open, she wore skintight shorts underneath what looked more like lingerie than athletic gear. And the shorts were so similar to her skin tone that it almost looked as though she were completely naked from the waste down.
4. Elizabeth Phillips
Thanks to fighters like Ronda Rousey, Holly Holm, and Miesha Tate, women’s UFC has really taken off in recent years. Part of the reason why men are taking an interest in the sport is the fact that many of the fighters are both tough and beautiful and, as Seinfeld taught us, there’s something enticing about two women fighting (i.e. a catfight). As Jerry explains it to Elaine, who can’t understand why men keeping getting excited at the prospect of a catfight: “Because men think if women are grabbing and clawing at each other there’s a chance they might somehow kiss.” Or, as was the case with Elizabeth Phillips, there’s a chance they might accidentally expose themselves. In response to Phillips’s wardrobe malfunction, Miesha Tate decided to wear two bras for her next fight. Good thinking.
3. Devin Hester
Devin Hester, one of the best return specialists in NFL history, suffered one of the most embarrassing wardrobe malfunctions imaginable in a game against the Philadelphia Eagles. As he attempted to receive a catch from Jay Cutler, Eagles Cornerback Dimitri Patterson for some reason grabbed onto Hester’s pants and tugged them down. You’ve got to give credit to NBC announcers Cris Collinsworth and Al Michaels for playing it off as though nothing had happened, even though NBC showed a slow-motion replay of Hester’s derriere.
2. Jelena Jankovic
It seems as though female tennis players’ outfits are getting smaller and smaller each year (the first female tennis players looked like they were dressed for the opera). It used to be that they’d wear a modest skirt with a polo shirt, and now they’re all wearing revealing skirts and tops. Jelena Jankovic, formerly ranked number one in the world, was lucky that her 2014 wardrobe malfunction (wherein one of her sports bra straps broke) didn’t lead to a more embarrassing moment. A woman from the stands was nice enough to help out by tying Jankovic’s strap back together.
1. Ekaterina Rubleva
Ekaterina Rubleva’s figure skating wardrobe malfunction makes Nora Hoffmann’s look like nothing. While skating at the European Championships, Rubleva, wearing a backless pink dress, raised her arms in the air and exposed her entire right breast. She seemed surprisingly unfazed by it and continued the performance with a big smile on her face. She says that she remembers nothing from her routine because she was too concerned about her dress, yet somehow she still managed to finish in twelfth place overall—not bad considering.
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