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By Chris Shaw, Special To OutKick
I’ve known Clay Travis for 25 years, since we met as freshmen in college. He’s been making ridiculous predictions for his entire life. It didn’t just start with his media career. But the absolute most ridiculous prediction of all, one we have spent a generation ridiculing him over, was this:
“Brendan Fraser is going to win an Oscar.”
This is the story of Clay’s most ridiculous prediction ever. And how it may come true.
If you’re a regular reader of this site, or if you’ve followed Clay’s media presence in the past, there is a good chance you’ve been surprised by a brash prediction Clay’s made, whether it was a pick he tossed off on “Lock It In,” a Blood Bank Guarantee, or just something he threw out there on Twitter. Maybe you’ve even lost money betting with Clay. This guy sure did:
Or maybe, like this guy, you developed a strategy around Clay’s blustering predictions and preposterous confidence:
(For the record the Raptors sealed it in 6 that year.)
You can google “Clay Travis worst predictions” and find a treasure trove of other examples.
What you may not know, though, is that the entire timeline of Clay’s penchant for ridiculous predictions may have begun some 25 years ago, with the grandfather of all hot takes:
“Brendan Fraser is going to win Best Actor some day.”
Maybe picking Fraser for a someday Oscar doesn’t sound so far out; Fraser has always been a promising actor on the cusp of greatness. But because he’s also balanced out his serious roles with campier films like Encino Man and the Mummy franchise, declaring him an Oscar favorite has always stood out as an oddball guarantee, a habit that appears to have become the bedrock of Clay’s entire professional life.
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Clay commissioned me to write this article because of that nascent guarantee. In his memory, he has been playing the long game on Brendan Fraser, consistently and vociferously. That’s certainly how I remember it.
- Watching With Honors on someone’s VHS tape. “Brendan Fraser is going to win Best Actor some day.”
- George of the Jungle, “look at that body, Shaw, Brendan Fraser is Oscar material.” (It’s best if you try to hear these in Clay’s slightly southern sun-soaked accent.)
- Gods and Monsters, which I don’t think any of us even saw. “Brendan Fraser is going to win Best Actor some day.”
- The Quiet American. “Mark my words, Shaw, Brendan Fraser is going to win Best Actor some day.”
- Even as B-list films like Monkey Bone forced Fraser to squeeze his talent through the tiniest pores, like pus escaping a wound, “Shaw: Brendan Fraser is winning an Oscar. I guarantee it.”
In fact, looking back, that might have been when Clay’s other college friends and I coined the phrase “Tennessee Guarantee” to identify those most preposterous predictions. The kind of prediction best delivered with the smug confidence of a person lucky enough to get randomly chosen during a Titans game to try to catch a punt in flip-flops, and end up winning a car and a boat.
The trouble is, when pressed, none of Clay’s other friends remember Clay’s obsession with the kind of clarity I expected when I began to reach out to them.
In a Zoom meeting I convened with four of Clay’s old roommates, our friend Shekhar laid it out on the table right at the beginning: “I don’t exactly remember all the ins and outs.” Another friend was a little more committal, but still did not have the encyclopedic recall I was hoping for: “I do remember him saying always, like Brendan Fraser, Oscar, that’s all I remember.”
Brendan Fraser, Oscar, indeed.
I wrote to Clay’s sister, who despite being an enthusiastic interview subject seemed to know pretty much nothing about Clay’s history of outlandish predictions, nor did she have a take on Brendan Fraser of her own. She did eagerly share, though, something else about her life with Clay:
So I didn’t even know he had an obsession with Brendan Fraser!… I do know that Fraser was in the Mummy franchise. I can tell you that Clay used to walk in his sleep A LOT. He may still walk in his sleep. One time we were in a hotel near an alligator infested lake in Florida and Clay kept trying to open the door and walk outside. The chain kept him from escaping.Clay’s sister
(Maybe she should have suspected that Clay was having a George of the Jungle dream.)
I wrote to the old Deadly Hippos gang, and got one friendly response that, sadly, did not elucidate matters:
I don’t have any stories with Clay’s Brendan Fraser obsession. I didn’t really know/remember that he had one so I definitely wouldn’t be able to help!
I thought about reaching out to Lara, Clay’s wife, but then I remembered this tweet, and thought maybe she’d be an unreliable narrator:
Certainly, though, with our friends, there was a kernel of something there, a story to be told. What do they remember from those days?
- A failed bet on the Titans over the Ravens in the 2001 playoffs (the Ravens defense suffocated them). The result: Clay had to run naked around a busy downtown DC intersection, a move which cost him both his dignity and a few very miserable nights in the doghouse with his nonplussed girlfriend.
- A bet that he could beat someone in a 2 a.m. footrace on the streets of DC, in flip-flops, that he lost spectacularly, where the punishment was sadly lost to our faded memories.
- Clay’s persistently vapid taste in music (he has declared “Song 2” by Blur the best song of all time, and he also refuses to acknowledge it’s real name, preferring to call it instead, “Woo-Hoo”), and a time that he came into my car while I was listening to “shitty music” he had never heard, where he doubled down by guaranteeing that no one else in the entire world could like that song. (Reader, the song was “Stairway to Heaven.”)
That one time. And there was, yes, one memory about Brendan Fraser that they all shared.
- “I just remember being in Krishna’s apartment that one time.”
Clay had a high school friend visiting from out of town. A bunch of us met at our friend Krishna’s apartment.
- “I just remember the fight.”
- “I don’t know what caused things to escalate.”
Somehow we must have exhausted all there was to say about A-10 basketball, and Brendan Fraser came up. By this time, I had been involved in so many conversations about Fraser with Clay that I think I had been radicalized. Without consciously doing so, I had gone over to Clay’s side.
Can you blame me? Reader, hasn’t there been a time where you’ve really wanted, despite not wanting to give him the satisfaction, to believe that Clay had all the answers? Have you ever hovered your finger over the “place bet” button on one of his Blood Bank Guarantees?
- “He said that Brendan Fraser was, like, a shitty actor, and Shaw got up and was like, ‘what!?’”
- He’s like, “what the fuck, man, Brendan Fraser’s an awesome actor!”
Again, can you blame me? Sure, Bedazzled (2000, with Elizabeth Hurley) was a terrible movie. He made a lot of terrible movies over the years, but did it erase his other achievements? Did it make him shitty?
- “And then you just started play wrestling, I guess, and Clay’s friend got trapped in some hold, and then he just hauled off and punched you in the balls!”
- “Then you were like, what the fuck, did you just punch me in the balls? That’s where I draw the line.”
- “He was on a date with some girl. And then it got really… it got like, really awkward. The two of them got up and just left.”
And that was that. It turns out that when pressed, all of Clay’s friends’ memories about Brendan Fraser were actually about me.
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I wanted to reach out to the guy who punched me for this article. I thought maybe 22 years was enough time that maybe this could have been water under the bridge, but despite many attempts, I was unable to find this friend on any social media platforms, and he and Clay seem to have lost touch.
It’s probably for the best that he disappeared. This Sunday, Brendan Fraser is going to win that Oscar statue, and Clay Travis, and I, will finally be proven right. We guarantee it.