Stone Cold Steve Austin Says He 'Appreciated' Fans Honoring His Career on 3:16 Day: 'Grateful'
Even though he was one of the biggest stars the wrestling world has ever seen, Stone Cold Steve Austin says he often washed his trademark black trunks in a sink.
"Man, when you're on the road, you're on the road — and a lot of times, you're just rinsing your trunks out in a sink and wringing them out and letting them dry," the 56-year-old tells PEOPLE. "That's life on the road because there's not a lot of guys going to laundromats. So you can get pretty funky by the time you get back to the house, especially because of the way I rolled."
Austin, who helped usher in the "Attitude Era" of WWE that solidified the company as the premiere wrestling organization in the world, says the practice of washing his clothes in a sink was convenient, especially since he was often covered in beer by the time he returned to the locker room.
"I mean, it got to be pretty bad sometimes," he recalls. "But most of the time, all my stuff smelled like beer, and I'd really wash all my wrestling stuff separately because it was so soaked with beer and had transferred to the clothes."
After retiring following his match against Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson at WrestleMania XIX in 2003, Austin has been busy hosting The Steve Austin Show podcast and the USA Network reality show, Straight Up Steve Austin. (He also has his own beer: Steve Austin's Broken Skull IPA.)
But today he's talking laundry as a part of a new campaign from Tide that cleverly matches him up with another pop culture personality with an "icy" nickname: Ice T.
"That guy is one of the coolest people you'll ever meet," Austin says of the rapper. "He had a rough upbringing, and then he goes in the army, so he's very well traveled. And he's a survivor, so he's an extremely wise person and very, very charismatic."
The pair's #TurnToCold ad features them "cold-calling" unsuspecting people to tell them to wash their clothes in cold water. Cold water, the company says, reduces energy usage and helps to preserve clothing colors.
"Me being a guy, I wash all my stuff in cold water anyway," Austin explains. "So it didn't take a whole lot of convincing me to be a part of the campaign when I found out who was going to do it and how we were going to do it."
The ads launched at a near-perfect time — on March 16, wrestling fans from around the world celebrated "3:16 Day" in honor of the former WWE superstar.
Even Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James wore a custom shirt to commemorate the occasion.
The celebration was inspired by his "Austin 3:16" phrase, which Austin coined during a promo in 1996 while addressing Jake "The Snake" Roberts, who often used religious slogans as part of his character. (The "Austin 3:16" phrase is a play on "John 3:16" of the Bible.)
"The idea popped into my head, and that promo was 100 percent ad-lib, talking trash," he recalls. "I said, 'Austin 3:16 says, I just whipped your ass.' "
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The phase would become an iconic part of wrestling lore, along with Austin's other slogan, "And that's the bottom line, because Stone Cold said so," which was also born during the same promo.
"So I had to two catchphrases and one promo from an event I was never supposed to win," Austin says. "So it was really, I don't now, a fluke, luck, or whatever, but it turned into a thing. And they both helped define my entire career."
But it was spontaneous moments like that one that quickly made Stone Cold a fan favorite in the WWE.
"You know what? It makes me feel so grateful that the people made this a thing," Austin says of 3:16 Day.
"I retired in 2003. So for people to remember things as vividly now, as they did then, or even more so..." he adds before pausing. "I'm just super appreciative of my fan base, and I can't believe it's still going on, but I dig it."
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