Steve Austin Talks Incredible Success Of “Austin 3:16” Shirt
Steve Austin reflected on the massive success of his most popular t-shirt when he was asked about how many of those shirts he has sold.
When it comes to pro wrestling shirts, there might not be anything in the history of the business that was more popular than the classic “Austin 3:16” shirt that was designed for “Stone Cold” Steve Austin in 1996.
At King of the Ring 1996, Steve Austin was celebrating his big tournament win by cutting a promo on a bible-thumping Jake Roberts by saying “Austin 3:16 says I just whipped your ass.” It was Austin’s way of referencing John 3:16 from the bible while using his wrestling character’s last name instead.
After that promo, there were fans everywhere in Austin 3:16 even though Austin was still a heel character. Over the next year, he became more fan-friendly and the shirt took off. The Austin 3:16 phenomenon nearly 30 years ago and the shirt still remains a popular item among wrestling fans.
If you watch any WWE wrestling show from the Attitude Era and even decades later, the Austin 3:16 shirt with a black color on it and white letters is everywhere. If you grew up in that time period then you know just how big it was.
During an interview with Jimmy Traina of the SI Media Podcast, Steve Austin was asked about how much money he has made from the Austin 3:16 shirt.
“I don’t know how much. I mean, it’s definitely seven figures, probably eight figures now. In WWE you get your royalty checks every quarter.”
Steve Austin would go on to talk about how he changed the way wrestlers would get paid for merchandise sales, or at least how he got paid.
“I remember when I first came up with that shirt with Jimmy Miranda after I started getting hot and I created a promo. All of a sudden they came out with that shirt and those shirts were everywhere. I went and had a conversation with Vince (McMahon).
“I said, ‘Hey man, I see a lot of T-shirts out there and I noticed that my royalty check doesn’t reflect that. He goes, ‘Well, Steve, what do you think we should do?’ I said, ‘Well, I think we need to kind of change the percentages.’ He came up with a number. He goes, ‘What do you think about that?’ I said, ‘I like it’, and so it was a fair deal. That became known as an Austin deal.”
“It was time to come out with the royalty checks for that quarter and Vince wanted to hand deliver this one to me. He handed it to me and said, ‘Steve, I’m just giving this to you because I’ve never given out a check like this before to anyone.’”
In the same interview, Steve Austin also had a lot of praise for the Undisputed WWE Universal Champion Roman Reigns as well.