I have a confession to make: I don’t get Floyd Mayweather fans. I’m not talking about people who appreciate his historically great boxing talent. I’m decidedly in that group. I’m also not talking about people who enjoy his “heel” character and think it brings some much-needed flair to boxing. I’m in that group as well; I’ve happily shelled out for the pay per view or attended every Floyd Mayweather fight for the last decade and will continue to do so, at least until he is a sad husk of his former self, serving as a gatekeeper for up and coming stars in a grotesque spectacle to pay off his next inevitable bankruptcy judgment (and you know that’s coming). I’m talking about his virtual entourage: self-titled, sigh, #TheMoneyTeam. Who the hell are these people?
What makes these people fascinating is that they hardly seem interested in celebrating Floyd’s in-the-ring accomplishments: they instead want to celebrate and virtually partake in his lifestyle. Sure, they’ll aggressively go after any boxing scribe who dares say that their man is not the GOAT, but (perhaps self-evidently) not in any way that demonstrates any understanding of the sport or even Mayweather’s own accomplishments. They do it reflexively; the same way one of Mayweather’s oversized grumpy-faced bodyguards might smack away the camera of a would-be paparazzo. What they do understand, however, is reveling in the regular tweets of Mayweather’s winning bet slips, his stacks of cash, celebrity friends decked out in TMT gear, gold chains, fancy clothes, and luxury cars. But why?
Let’s start with the obvious: the vast majority of #TheMoneyTeam is not rich. Their relationship with money is primarily via the problems its absence has caused. This is not a group of millionaires gathered to trade photos of their yachts and discuss polo ponies: this is a bunch of poor people gawking at one rich guy living a grotesquely lavish lifestyle (one that he himself had dismissed as a juvenile phase in 2010, before re-embracing with it with more enthusiasm than anything he’s displayed in the ring). It’s all very What’s the Matter with Kansas.
So, is it voyeurism? After all, America has always been fascinated with wealth and the wealthy. Shows like Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous had long popular runs on TV, supermarket checkouts teem with magazines that serve as little more than glorified advertisements for products their readers can never afford, and people like Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian seem to have made careers out of little more than being rich, stupid, and camera friendly. Is Floyd Mayweather just a male Kim Kardashian?
WORD... i gotta get down wit the MONEY TEAM!!!!!! �� RT @felladaflair_ Money May made some good Paper tonight on the Heat— THE RED BOTTOM BOSS (@DAREDBOTTOMBOSS) <ahref="https://twitter.com/DAREDBOTTOMBOS…">June 4, 2013
Maybe, but, as enjoyable as that mental image is, it doesn’t seem like a perfect fit. Unlike, say, Paris Hilton’s fans (ed. note: it sickens me to write the phrase, “Paris Hilton’s fans,” but I digress), who appear to view her a style magnate and guilty pleasure, members of #TheMoneyTeam rarely display such reality-based boundaries. Their loyalty to Floyd is absolute, unquestioning and not necessarily tethered to anything Floyd does for them. They appear to feel legitimate joy and exhilaration when Floyd cashes a winning bet – but why? It’s not as if winning or losing a bet will cause Floyd to act differently. And they certainly don’t share in the winnings. But do they realize that?
I think the ultimate fantasy of any #TMT member is to, somehow, some way, eventually migrate from Floyd’s virtual entourage to his actual entourage, where they can benefit from Floyd’s largesse in much the same manner as a remora – a fish so unctuous that it has actually evolved a goddamned suction cup on its head to allow it to literally suck up to a host shark – benefits from eating the scraps of uneaten fish that its host leaves behind. If they just heap praise on Floyd at every turn, retweet his every word, aggressively go after any disbelievers, and ignore any objective fact that suggests their hero is neither as impressive as they would have it nor a terribly decent human being, Floyd will somehow take notice and invite them on board. If that’s truly what animates them, it’s hard to imagine a sadder existence, other than perhaps being a member of Hasim Rahman’s entourage.