Joel McHale has defended ESPN’s decision to honor Caitlyn Jenner with this year’s Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The comedian and host of the E! network's “The Soup” will be hosting the 2015 ESPY Awards on July 15. He expressed his support for his fellow E! star despite the backlash following the announcement.
“Obviously, it's very controversial. People have very strong opinions about Caitlyn Jenner. But I think being the most famous American decathlete is a massive achievement, and there's no doubt -- some people don't think it, but I think it's courageous what she did," McHale told HuffPost Live on Wednesday.
Jenner's "courageous" act, of course, was her transition from Bruce to Caitlyn. She made her journey very public and announced it officially through a one-on-one special interview with ABC's Diane Sawyer in April. Jenner also has since been featured in an E! two-part special titled “Keeping Up With the Kardashians: About Bruce.”
Shortly after the ABC interview and E! special aired, ESPN announced that the former Olympic gold-medal-winning athlete would be this year’s recipient of the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. While many expressed their support, the choice also drew backlash. Protests intensified after it was rumored that Jenner was chosen over Noah Galloway to receive the award. ESPN has denied such claims. Others claimed that Lauren Hill, a college basketball player who lost her battle against brain cancer, also would have been a more deserving recipient.
McHale jokingly stated that he’s actually more concerned about landing his jokes once he hosts the ceremony. Jenner didn’t pay any attention to the backlash and worried more about her outfit for that evening.
What the hell am I going to wear? http://t.co/HoXNQasAXM
— Caitlyn Jenner (@Caitlyn_Jenner) June 2, 2015
The ceremony will be Jenner’s first major public appearance as Caitlyn. While she has been living openly as a woman since her Vanity Fair cover came out, the ESPYs will not only allow her to stand before hundreds of her peers in the sports community, she will also be seen by millions of TV viewers all over the world.