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NHL star Pat Maroon is turning "the negative into a positive" after being body-shamed during a recent game.
During Tuesday's game between the Tampa Bay Lightning and Boston Bruins, the Lightning forward, 34, was playing when a sportscaster made several comments about his weight, telling viewers "inadvertent fasting for Pat Maroon is like going four hours without a meal," among other remarks.
The following day, Maroon — known as "Big Rig" among his fans — simply responded by making a donation to Tampa Bay Thrives, a nonprofit that helps people struggling with mental health, bullying and body image.
"In support of those struggling with mental health, bullying and body image I am making a 2,000 donation in the name of @realjackedwards to @TampaBayThrives and I encourage @TBLightning and @NHLfans to join me," he tweeted Wednesday.
The team's nonprofit Lightning Foundation also tweeted that it would match all donations made by Maroon and his teammates. The Carolina Hurricanes also tweeted asking fans to donate in support of Maroon.
In support of those struggling with mental health, bullying and body image I am making a 2,000 donation in the name of @realjackedwards to @TampaBayThrives and I encourage @TBLightning and @NHL fans to join me. Donate here: https://t.co/ZEbWHw6Cqv
— Pat Maroon (@patmaroon) November 30, 2022
Maroon told The Athletic that he learned about the body-shaming comments from teammate Steven Stamkos, who showed him the video after the game. He admitted that he and the entire Lightning team decided to use the donation to charity as his response.
"It was a bunch of us, as a team of us, that decided that we're going to act on taking the high road, and just taking the negative into a positive. Find a solution of what we can do, and raise money," Maroon told the outlet. "I think it's best sometimes you take the high road."
He added that although he understands being a professional athlete often comes with criticism from sports broadcasters, he thinks the comments were out of line and could impact others struggling with body image.
"You just don't talk bad about someone like that for a minute straight, for no reason," Maroon said. "I get it — if we're out on the ice and guys are chirping and guys are doing those things, that's part of hockey. That's part of it. But someone on national TV when [potentially] millions of listeners are watching or tuned in, and he just basically cut me down. Uncalled for, unnecessary. I don't understand why he did that. But it is what it is. It's over, it's done. And we turned a negative into a positive."
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"And if someone is watching the game that's struggling with that stuff, and they're listening to that, I mean, I can only imagine how they feel," he continued. "You know what I mean? Listen, I'm a professional athlete. I can take some stuff. I'm a strong guy, I'm a funny guy, easy guy to talk to, you can joke with me all you want. But when things are unnecessary, that was very unnecessary."
Maroon explained to the outlet that he's putting the situation behind him and is excited that they've raised $50,000 for the nonprofit already.
"So it's on the move-up, and hopefully we're helping people that are struggling with their weight, or with anything in the world. Because at the end of the day, people do struggle, and people do try to lose weight. And sometimes it's harder than others," he added. "So, hopefully we impacted a couple people, and we're raising a lot of money right now for a great foundation."