A photograph of Bolt, seemingly smiling over his shoulder at his opponents as his legs pedaled furiously to a victory in the men’s 100m semifinal, went viral Monday, and DeGeneres tweeted a Photoshopped version of the original image from her account that showed her piggybacking on Bolt’s back, with the caption, “This is how I’m running errands from now on.”
Many Twitter users were quick to point out the more negative connotations of showing a white woman riding a black man as a form of transportation, while others defended DeGeneres, pointing out the fact that she has been a vocal activist against discrimination.
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The controversy built overnight until DeGeneres thought it was necessary to address the issue herself, tweeting, “I am highly aware of the racism that exists in our country. It is the furthest thing from who I am.”
Bolt, who has yet to address the meme, went on to win Sunday’s final in 9.81 seconds, becoming the first person to claim the gold medal in the event for the third consecutive time.