Mick Fanning Is Our First Guest On The Stab MIC
Introducing Stab’s new podcast with a focus on Money, Influence, and Culture (get it? MIC!)
Ed.’s Note: Welcome to the first installment of the Stab MIC, our new podcast hosted, however reluctantly, by founder and owner Sam McIntosh, and brought to you by our dear friends at Byrd, and recorded live at their beautiful space in Newport Beach, the Byrd’s Nest.
At the end of August, 2018 I spent a week in Japan filming Stab in the Dark with Mick Fanning. I hadn’t worked with Mick for a long time. Maybe even 10 years. We’d both made decisions back then that pitted us against one another for some time and left us absolutely estranged—decisions we wouldn’t make again, but which we agreed we were both better for having lived through. Taj Burrow offered us the opportunity for a reconciliation of sorts a few years ago, when he invited me to Mick’s house on the Gold Coast for Matt Wilkinson’s victory party at the Quiksilver Pro at Snapper.
Around bowls of tequila in his walk-in pantry, Mick said the past was exactly that.
So I offered we should have him be the next pilot for Stab in the Dark.
Stab's founder, Sam McIntosh, and Mr. Michael Eugene Fanning at the Byrd's Nest, Newport Beach.
Fast forward to Japan, and time is on our side. We’re dodging a typhoon, spending hours in the car chasing protected corners. Like we all know, when you’re with someone on a trip for a week without any set agenda, the vibe loosens, and with Mick and me, the conversation flowed. I was fascinated and taken aback by the amount of new business ventures and projects Mick had going on, as well as his mature and considered ideologies around them.
Of course, most of us start to find our character in our 30s, but there was something else about Mick’s MO. He had a thirst for knowledge; he was a question machine, and took a genuine interest in other people’s lives and experiences.
Surfing's gentleman entrepreneur and Australian statesman.
At Stab, I don’t do much on the editorial side and work mostly on the film projects. Each year, however, I do love doing the research to determine the annual Stab Rich List. Which turns out to be one of our most popular pieces of the year. For the past few months, I was wondering how we could tell these types of stories. So here we are: the Stab M.I.C., a podcast about Money, Influence and Culture (with an emphasis on high-performance surfing—this is Stab, of course).
I’ve had some internal tension on this podcast—and not just because I hate my voice as much as the rest of us do—but because I have always tried to remain behind the scenes here. Why? Simple: it feels very uncomfortable to put myself out there. I don’t speak well, and struggle to find words when under pressure.
But I’m also very interested in this subject matter: the dynamics of value, cultural capital, and how it’s quantified. Though I love that there is no science to it, still I want to try to find answers: How is Alex Knost worth more to a brand than Laurie Towner? Is Jamie O’Brien the most valuable surfer in the world right now? Why is that Clay Marzo doesn’t have a deal anywhere near Rob Machado’s contract?
Mick getting tuned up at the Byrds Nest, Newport Beach.
I emailed Mick the questions prior just so he didn’t feel like I was trying to ambush him on the day. He green lit them all but I figured with the mics hot on the spot, he’d get cagey, or offer careful, stock quotes—answers more indicative of his media-honed professionalism.
However, on a warm summer afternoon last week at the Byrd’s Nest in Newport, surfing’s most unmistakable bow-legged silhouette illuminated the doorway, I said to Mick “I’m gonna go hard at you so make sure you give me plenty back.”
He laughed: “I’m good to go.”
And from the moment we started, he was honest and candid.
And just in case you want to sit through my appalling questions, here are five quick highlights.
- In the history of surfing, there have only been 12 surfers (Tom Carroll, Kelly Slater, Taj Burrow, Joel Parkinson, Steph Gilmore, Jordy Smith, Mick Fanning, Dane Reynolds, Gabriel Medina, John Florence, Kolohe Andino, Julian Wilson) who have signed Million Dollar marquee deals. Mick is the only surfer in history to hold on to that seven-figure sticker-on-the-nose deal once he left the world tour.
- Mick is the only athlete on the entire international Red Bull team who isn’t contracted to wear the Red Bull Hat.
- Mick has a total of 13 sponsors and somehow none of those contractually conflict.
- Mick was offered to join the team of St. Archer beer. He turned it down and the company was later acquired for a rumoured figure of around $70m.
- Management and representation gives a sounding board and a secure layer of connective tissue between talent and client. It also costs most surfers 20 percentage of their salary, and Mick elects to do all of his negotiation himself.
Mick knows a thing or two about clean fades.