According to a promoter for O.J. Simpson, the former gridiron great has had a religious rebirth behind bars and is now ready to host a TV show.
The show, titled Holy Safari, would feature Simpson traveling the world and interviewing religious leaders, even the Pope. Simpson is awaiting a decision on the appeal of his convictions for armed robbery and kidnapping.
Simpson prays in his cell every night and his manager Norman Pardo says: “OJ is very religious now and he’s been counselling other inmates with Bible studies for months. When I talk to him on the phone all he wants to discuss is religion. He’s obsessed.”
African-American Simpson has even transformed a “white supremacist” cell mate into an unlikely trusted friend, according to Pardo.
The former all-American hero, who turned his fame as a sporting icon into a lucrative career as an actor and TV commentator, has been behind bars at the Lovelock Correctional Center in Nevada since December 2008. But friends claim that inmate No 02648927 has cleaned up his act and plans to launch a global crusade dubbed the Holy Safari.
Simpson is already negotiating with religious TV networks, which can rake in millions of dollars weekly in donations, to take his crusade to the airwaves.
A promotional poster reportedly shows him dressed all in white, with outstretched arms beckoning toward a glowing white cross.
From behind bars Simpson has been watching internationally recognised televangelist Frederick Price and told friends: “If he can do it so can I.”
But not everyone welcomes the prospect of Simpson raising millions in the name of the Lord.
“OJ will tell you that he wants to bring people together but that’s rubbish as far as I’m concerned,” one insider said. “There’s a lot of people sending bucket-loads of money to these TV preachers and OJ’s just looking to rake in millions from poor, unsuspecting Christians.”
American televangelists generally have a scandal-plagued history, rife with corruption and extra-marital affairs. Many draw criticism for their grand lifestyles, vast mansions, luxury cars and private planes all funded by their ministries.
But no televangelist has ever turned to God with the weight of scandal borne by OJ. Millions still view him as the man who killed his ex-wife Nicole Brown Simpson, 35, and her friend, restaurant waiter Ron Goldman, 25, on June 12, 1994. Five days later, about to be charged with murder, OJ fled. His 100-minute police car chase through the streets of Los Angeles captivated 95 million Americans on live TV before he finally surrendered.