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Time to put Greg Louganis on the cover of Wheaties box

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The diver has long been denied the honor despite his four gold medals.

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A Change.org petition seeks to right an athletic marketing wrong that has lasted 27 years by getting Olympic diver Greg Louganis on the cover of a Wheaties box.

From the petition by Julie Sondgerath of Chicago:

Greg Louganis set a diving record in the 1984 Olympic games in Los Angeles when he won two gold medals. He became the first man to reach 700 in platform diving. Greg was diving's superstar and Swimming World named him "The Greatest Diver Ever." At the time, General Mills explained Louganis did not meet their "wholesome demographics" to grace the cover of the famed coveted Wheaties box. Greg Louganis deserves (still) to be on the cover of the Wheaties box. And with marriage equality passing in June of 2015, what a great way to pay it forward to Greg and all of his accomplishments. After watching HBO's documentary "Back on Board: Greg Louganis," I felt inspired to ask General Mills to right a wrong and put him on the Wheaties box.

Louganis certainly deserves it. He won four Olympic diving golds, two each in 1984 and 1988 and is considered the greatest diver in history. Other U.S. Olympians of the time were honored and Louganis was not, even though no diver has ever won double golds at back-to-back Games.

Though Louganis did not come out as openly gay until after retiring in the 1990s, there were many rumors about his sexuality while he competed. I had heard that he was going to come out in 1984 with another American gold medalist, but it never happened. I suspect General Mills, the maker of Wheaties, didn't want a potential gay athlete to in effect endorse its breakfast food. Richard Sandomir of the New York Times agrees:

Homophobia would seem to be the only reason that Louganis was denied the simple cereal-box accolade. He says so in the documentary, even if the filmmakers could not present anyone from General Mills who would agree. A spokesman for the cereal-maker said that nobody from that period was left to discuss the decision-making. ...

Louganis's on-camera shrug suggests an acknowledgment that being ignored by Wheaties should be placed in a 1980s context — during the early years of the AIDS epidemic and decades before court rulings led to same-sex marriages like his own.

"It was such a different time," he said by telephone last week. "There was a mentality of fear."

Will Sweeney, the producer of "Back on Board," said: "Greg is always very careful and willing to consider alternate explanations. But rationally, I can't come up with any other one. Here was a guy who by any metric or evaluation was the dominant figure in his sport. And here he was standing against a wall of Wheaties boxes of people who people don't know. How was it possible he never had a Wheaties box?"

It's never too late to wrong a right, and General Mills did put Olympic great Jim Thorpe on the Wheaties box in 2001, 48 years after he died. General Mills needs to honor Louganis while he's still alive and making a difference.

The Change.org petition is 4,100 signatures short of the desired 15,000. You can sign it here to help put it over the top.