One day after Jason Collins came out as the first openly gay professional athlete in a major sport, talking heads have been quick to debate the significance of the action. In the real world, however, fans have been eager to let their money do the talking for them.
The Washington Post's Dan Steinberg reports sales of Collins' Washington Wizards jerseys have dominated the franchise's "personalized" section in its online store. Every single personalized jersey sold at the Wizard's store Monday was reportedly a "Collins 98" garment.
And Collins' number, 98, is no accident, a fact that's only recently come to light.
In a Sports Illustrated article published Monday, the athlete reveals he selected the jersey number as a secret and "small gesture of solidarity" with the gay community. With his choice, Collins subtly honors Matthew Shepard, a 21-year-old Wyoming college student who was kidnapped, brutally beaten and left for dead in 1998.
"When I put on my jersey," Collins writes, "I was making a statement to myself, my family and my friends."
Earl Fowlkes, president and CEO of the Center for Black Equity, a group representing the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) African-Americans, put Collins' jersey sales in perspective as a symbol of equal rights.
"He's our Jackie Robinson," Fowlkes said when reached for comment by AOL Sporting News. "Number 98 -- knowing how the LGBT community is, they're gonna be wearing his shirt. We have to. We don't get many people like that."