E!; Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images
by Alyssa Toomey | Thu., Jun. 4, 2015 9:17 AM
E!; Craig Sjodin/ABC via Getty Images
"Bruce has received many accolades over the years for being one of the greatest Olympians of our time but The ESPYS are honored to celebrate Bruce becoming Caitlyn," ESPYs executive producer Maura Mandt said in a statement following Caitlyn's big reveal on the cover of Vanity Fair. "She has shown the courage to embrace a truth that had been hidden for years, and to embark on a journey that may not only give comfort to those facing similar circumstances, but can also help to educate people on the challenges that the transgender community faces."
(With the release of her Vanity Fair cover on June 1, Caitlyn has chosen to publicly identify as a woman and E! News will refer to her using female pronouns. In stories published prior to this date, Caitlyn was referred to as Bruce and male pronouns were used.)
The announcement inevitably received some backlash on social media and soon after, a photo of double amputee Noah Galloway began circulating on Twitter with users claiming the army veteran was the "runner up" for the prestigious honor.
"Caitlyn Jenner won the Arthur Ashe Courage Award. The runner up was this guy: Army Veteran Noah Galloway, who lost an arm and a leg to a roadside bomb in Iraq, and now competes in Crossfit events, runs marathons, and competed in the 58-hour Death Race," the image read.
Noah Galloway, a 33-year-old former U.S. soldier, lost his arm and leg while serving in Iraq. He also competed on Dancing With the Stars season 20 and came in third place, and he was named the "Ultimate Men's Health Guy" by the magazine in 2014.
While Galloway's accomplishments are undoubtedly honorable, an ESPN spokeswoman confirmed to E! News that there is no such thing as a "runner up" for their 3 key awards – the Arthur Ashe Courage Award, the Jimmy V Perseverance Award and the Pat Tillman Award for Service.
Annie Leibovitz for Vanity Fair
"The Arthur Ashe Courage Award is meant to honor individuals whose contributions transcend sports through courageous action. Sometimes that courage is demonstrated over the course of a lifetime and sometimes it is demonstrated in a single act that shines a light on an important contemporary issue," ESPN said in a statement. "At all times, there are many worthy candidates. This year, we are proud to honor Caitlyn Jenner embracing her identity and doing so in a public way to help move forward a constructive dialogue about progress and acceptance."
Galloway has yet to respond to the headlines via social media. Jenner is expected to make her first public appearance as Caitlyn this summer when she accepts the honor.
"In the past few months, the overwhelming outpouring of support from all over the world for my journey has been incredible," Jenner said in a statement following the Arthur Ashe Courage Award announcement. "However, being honored with this award, which is named after one of my heroes, is truly special. For the first time this July, I will be able to stand as my true self in front of my peers."
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