Lewis Hamilton has been criticised by his home town for saying it was his dream to “get out of the slums”.
The Formula 1 racing driver made the comment on stage last night at the BBC Sports Personality of the Year Awards.
He seemed to immediately backtrack but the leader of Stevenage Borough Council said it was “disappointing” and people felt “very offended”.
Social media users were quick to both criticise and defend Hamilton but he has not commented.
Speaking to one of the presenters, Gabby Logan, he said: “It really was a dream for us all as a family to do something different. For us to get out of the slums.
“Well, not the slums, but to get out of somewhere and do something. We all set our goals very, very high but we did it as a team.”
Stevenage Borough Council leader Sharon Taylor said: “It is disappointing that Lewis Hamilton referred to Stevenage as ‘the slums’ at such a high-profile event.
“He clearly realised what he had said and tried to correct it but sadly the people of our town, many of whom admire and support him, felt very offended.”
Also writing on Twitter, Team England para-badminton player Gobi Ranganathan said: “I for one am proud to fly the flag for Stevenage. It’s made me who I am today.
“It’s not perfect, but it’s home. And it has a lot to offer if people just open their eyes.”
Others on Twitter defended him, one post said: “Please note that Lewis’s words were taken out of context. and he tried to correct himself,” while a comment on the Lewis Hamilton Facebook page said: “He was meaning his family were not well off but made sacrifices to help him become a go kart driver.”
Here are some of the tweets criticising Hamilton.
So @LewisHamilton considers #Stevenage a 'slum'. Well it's a shame he hasn't donated some of his wealth to bring it up to his 'celebrity' standards!! Stevenage isn't perfect, but wherever you live within the town, you're close to parks & outside spaces.
— Kristina Read (@OutInAllWeather) December 18, 2018
Lewis Hamilton describing stevenage as a slum😂😂😂. What an absolute toolbag
— Alessandro (@alexmuscella) December 16, 2018
Am I going mad or did Lewis Hamilton just say he s from the slums? He s from fucking Stevenage.
— String (@DirtyFirty) December 16, 2018
Lewis Hamilton, I know Stevenage isn’t great but did you really just say “I came out of the slums” live on BBC
— Kerrianne Clinton (@kerriannex) December 16, 2018
Did Lewis Hamilton really say on live TV that he came from the "slums". So disrespectful and exactly why he shouldn't win #spoty18
— Deborah Smith (@DeborahSmith286) December 16, 2018
Lewis Hamilton has apparently called his hometown of Stevenage a slum ? Suppose if you live in Monaco pretty much everywhere else is #talksport
— john pratt (@johnhmfc1874) December 18, 2018
Lewis Hamilton's 'long journey out of the slums'… of Stevenage What an absolute offensive tool this bloke is! 😩🙄 pic.twitter.com/Co4a0JRN11
— AngrybirdJu (@AngrybirdJu) December 18, 2018
— ღnatalieღ (@natalieh79) December 18, 2018
— Amanda (@amanda_j17) December 18, 2018