Haters are my motivators: 200lb, 12-year-old star of controversial Nike ad on how critics have inspired him to stick to new weight-loss goals

'Mean comments just motivate me even more': The 200lb, 12-year-old star of controversial Nike ad reveals how critics inspire him to stick to new weight-loss goals

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UPDATED:

22:46 GMT, 13 August 2012

The 12-year-old, 200lb star of the latest Nike commercial has spoken out about his new-found fame and his surprise at learning there were people who had not reacted positively to it.

Nathan Sorrell, from London, Ohio, sparked controversy appeared in a new TV spot for the sportswear giant during the Olympics, running slowly and desperately toward the
camera with the tagline 'Find Your Greatness'.

But though many viewers argued that it was 'degrading' to the youngster, Nathan himself says he considers it anything but.

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Haters are motivators: Nathan Sorrell, the star of Nike's new 'Find Your Greatness' campaign, says his critics have only made him more determined than ever to lose weight

Haters are motivators: Nathan Sorrell, the star of Nike's new 'Find Your Greatness' campaign, says his critics have only made him more determined than ever to lose weight

In an appearance on the Today show this morning, he told Matt Lauer: 'I’m starting to learn, even if somebody
completely physically fit did that commercial, they would still get, as
they say, haters.'

In fact, Nathan, who is now working hard to lose his excess pounds, even says the criticism has actually motivated him.

He added: 'That just motivates me more because I want to get off my feet and do
extra time for those people that have enough time to be able to sit
there and write mean comments on the internet, when they could be doing
something like I am.'

The ad has accrued nearly 1million
views on YouTube, with hundreds of commenters discussing Nathan's physical
fitness.

New-found fame: Nathan and his mother appeared on the Today show sofa with Matt Lauer this morning

New-found fame: Nathan and his mother appeared on the Today show sofa with Matt Lauer this morning

The 5'3″ middle-schooler was selected
to be part of Nike's international Find Your Greatness campaign as part
of the manufacturer's latest Olympic-conscious push.

Each spot features a character located in the different cities around the world named London, after this year's host.

The Lance Acord directed piece that features Nathan is grueling to watch.

The boy chases the camera in the twilight for roughly a minute, the sound of his heavy footsteps echoing on the weathered road.

Though Nathan ran so much that he threw up while shooting the
commercial, he found the experience inspirational and he and his mother
have vowed to change their lives and their diets.

Endurance

Endurance: The Nike ad features an exhausted, overweight Nathan running slowly toward the camera with the tagline 'Find Your Greatness' – but critics were up in arms about the 'degrading' concept

run

run

Fight: The 5'3″ middle-schooler was selected to be part of Nike's international Find Your Greatness campaign as part of the manufacturer's latest Olympic-conscious push

'It was just so fun that I didn’t
care how hard it was,' Nathan said of the shoot. 'I really like Nike so I
thought it would be a really cool opportunity.'

He is still struggling to adjust to his new-found fame, though.

'Went
to the gym for the first day! It was fun! Hard though, but that just
means its working, RIGHT'

'Oh my gosh, I just couldn’t believe
it,' he said of the media frenzy. 'Still to this day, this minute, it
just still hasn’t completely set in yet.'

During the shoot, Nathan told the Record Herald, he had to jog numerous times down Old Xenia Road.

He was told to run behind a Porsche with a camera and boom fixed atop in, panting after Mr Acord and his crew.

During the second take, Nathan was so defeated that he could barely go on.

'I got sick in a ditch,' he said to the paper.

Reality

Reality: The ad has accrued nearly 1 million views on YouTube, with hundreds of commenters discussing the physical fitness of Nathan Sorrell, a 200-pound 12-year-old from London, Ohio

He was paid an undisclosed sum for his efforts.

Watching himself in the commercial was a bit of an awakening.

Since filming it, both he and his mother Monica have vowed to help each other lose weight.

'Went
to the gym for the first day! It was fun! Hard though, but that just
means its working, RIGHT' he posted on Facebook today.

Nike said they would return to film him if he stayed dedicated to his goal.

Though this story may be heartwarming to some, others have decried the commercial for being unrealistic and troublesome.

'If
this middle-schooler is feeling pressure and shame on a national scale
and wanting to lose weight because the Nike Corporation put his fat body
on display to sell shoes, then that's creepy and depressing,' wrote one
reporter on Jezebel.

Chase

Chase: He was told to run behind a Porsche with a camera and boom fixed atop in, panting after the director and his crew

Cheers

Cheers: Since filming the commercial, both he and his mother have vowed to help eachother lose weight

'It perpetuates this damaging, condescending fantasy that some (SOME!) thin people love—the idea that they're thin because they worked hard, because they're somehow better than other people.'

Nike rebuffed Jezebel's claims, saying they completely missed the mark.

'The idea behind “Find Your Greatness” is to inspire and
energize everyday athletes everywhere to celebrate their achievements,
participate and enjoy the thrill of an athletic lifestyle,' Ryan Greenwood, Nike UK Head of PR & Communication, said to the MailOnline.

'As our co-founder,
Bill Bowerman said, “If you have a body you’re an athlete” and we think that’s
a really compelling insight for all athletes as we celebrate great sporting
moments this summer.'