Olympian Carl Lewis Says Chris Christie Tried to Intimidate Him

According to Lewis, Christie wanted to keep him out of a state-senate race

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Carl Lewis
George Bridges / MCT / Getty Images

Olympian Carl Lewis said on Monday that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie canceled a plan to give the track star a position after Lewis decided to run for state senate in 2011.

The nine-time Olympic gold medalist was reportedly set to serve as the state’s “fitness ambassador,” before he decided to run against a Republican incumbent in 2011. Yet when rumors began swirling about Lewis’ campaign, he told NJ.com that he received a call from Governor Christie dissuading him from running.

“I thought it was going just fine. And when I started to run, when he talked to me on the phone that night, he said ‘If you run, we’re going to have to cancel the program,’” Lewis said.

Lewis eventually withdrew from the race because he didn’t meet the state’s residency requirement.

In the wake of the George Washington Bridge scandal that has marred Christie’s governorship, Lewis told NJ.com that he sees a parallel between the scandal and his interactions with the governor.

“I felt like he was trying to intimidate me, absolutely. But I definitely didn’t feel intimidated,” Lewis said. He added that he didn’t consider Christie a bully, but “someone who’s insecure, and he’s governor now and has got the power.”