Brandi Chastain is taking her shirt off again -- this time for a good cause.
The retired U.S. women’s soccer star, famous for her game-winning penalty kick in the 1999 World Cup, repeated her famous celebration of stripping down to her sports bra to kick off the MoonWalk this weekend, which raises money for breast cancer research.
About 1,500 people showed up for the overnight event in New York City on Saturday night.
"I have to say I've only (repeated the celebration) maybe once or twice," Chastain said. "So I don't do it very often, but I will do it for special causes and good reason and the MoonWalk obviously is one of the best reasons."
The organizers came to her with the idea she said, and it's a cause that's close to her heart since her aunt was recently diagnosed with cancer and a classmate of her son’s lost her mother to the disease.
For fans of women’s soccer, Chastain's original shirt stripping moment, dubbed the "sports bra heard around the world" by the New York Times was one of the most important in history. Not only did it cap one of the greatest runs of all time in US soccer, but it sparked a media frenzy that helped start the first women’s soccer league in the U.S. Fourteen years later, Chastain said the memory of the first time she did it is as fuzzy as it was then.
"I don't really remember exactly how I was feeling,” she said before the event. "I know I was very tired and it was very hot. New York City is very hot right now, so it will be a good reason to take my shirt off."
The shirt-stripping celebration earned Chastain a sports bra endorsement deal and catapulted her on top of the list of most famous soccer players -- men or female -- from the United States of all time.
Now, she said, she uses the moment to encourage girls that she mentors through her foundation and coaching to take pride in their big moments.
“The moment was what so wonderful about sports when you do something good and you’ve reached a goal and you’re all of a sudden entitled to a moment of insanity,” she said. “I think celebrations are very important --especially for young girls because they (shy away from their) greatness and don’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings. But I tell girls all the time that its very important to celebrate things that you do.”
In the 14 years since the original sports bra moment, a lot has changed in women's soccer. A new team of stars has taken over for Chastain and her teammates, like Mia Hamm and Julie Foudy, who were considered pioneers in the sport. Chastain, for her part, has stayed active in the game, coaching and doing broadcasts for ESPN.
And while the new group of women hasn't produced quite an iconic moment as Chastain's sports bra reveal, she said the team now still has had their moments to inspire support for the new incarnation of a professional women's soccer league.
"I think the moment the US team had in the last Olympics, like Japan had in the World Cup the previous year -- the moment of the never-say-die attitude," she said. "The (attitude that the) game isn’t over 'til the last whistle blows and that you’re constantly going to put your heart out there and challenge your opponent to the end.
"That kind of courageousness that kind of determination that is what people have been holding on to and why they’re excited about going to a stadium to watch women's soccer (again)."
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