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Brandi Chastain’s 1999 World Cup bra has gone from the bottom of a pile to up on her wall

CHASTAIN
Brandi Chastain celebrates after scoring on a penalty kick to secure the 1999 World Cup title for the U.S. women’s soccer team.
(Anacleto Rapping / Los Angeles Times)

Brandi Chastain could very well be the only person who has a framed bra hanging in her home.

It’s on a wall, next to her 1999 Women’s World Cup jersey and the medal she received for being a part of the U.S. team that won it all that year.

“I look at it every day because I walk past it in my house,” the two-time World Cup champion and two-time Olympic gold medalist recently told USA Today.

Of course, it’s no ordinary bra. It’s the black Nike sports bra Chastain was wearing the moment she became a sports legend.

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On that day at the Rose Bowl nearly 20 years ago, Chastain nailed a penalty kick that lifted the U.S. to victory over China in the World Cup final. The image of Chastain celebrating her game-winning shot — on her knees, fists clenched, a look of exultation on her face, waving her jersey and wearing only that black sports bra on her torso — is iconic.

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“I have no idea why that happened,” Chastain recently told The Times’ Kevin Baxter of her celebration. “It was very spontaneous.”

Teammate Kristine Lilly told Baxter: “When you look at the picture, there’s much more than just Brandi taking her shirt off. Her face, her strength, her happiness. We just won. That’s all that picture was about.”

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Chastain said to USA Today that the most famous undergarment in sports history initially ended up “at the bottom of my sports bra pile” and she even occasionally wore it during workouts. But now she realizes the significance of that bra and the moment in sports history it represents.

“I don’t think there’s enough words to explain that moment. Everyone will look at that differently,” she said. “I’ve heard a billion stories about that moment. I’m glad that people can interpret it how they will.”

Chastain added: “To know more women and girls can use [soccer] to empower them to play the game at a higher level or use the game as a vehicle for empowerment and confidence to be a CEO or whatever they want to be, I feel like it’s leaving the game healthier and happier and in a more healthy place.

“That is the joy I get.”

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charles.schilken@latimes.com

Twitter: @chewkiii

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