Sammy Sosa, the former Chicago Cubs slugger who had a 13-year run with a team-record of 545 home runs and three seasons of 60-plus homers, is in the limelight again, and not for using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). Sosa's recent television appearance in Panama was captured by Panamanian TV personality Nairobi Dacosta, who uploaded a photo on her Twitter of the former Major League Baseball (MLB) player looking "downright vampiric," NESN reports.
The ex-Cubs slugger, who originally had a medium-to-dark skin tone, was said to be sporting a completely new complexion — white. Sosa was previously thought to have a skin condition that caused this drastic change in his face pigmentation. The former athlete's "new face" was first spotted in the 2009 Latin Grammys in Las Vegas when Sosa showed up to the awards show with a lighter visage. The dramatic change in pigmentation had baseball fans, sports commentators, dermatologists, and cultural analysts wonder what could have been the cause of the skin condition, says Time. But it turns out it was all cosmetic.
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According to the Associated Press (AP), Sosa said he is not trying to look like the late pop star Michael Jackson and is not suffering from any skin illness. He stated instead that his skin color was due to a longtime use of a cosmetic "skin cream," in combination with bright TV lights make his face appear whiter than it actually is.
"It's a bleaching cream that I apply before going to bed and whitens my skin some," said the ex-Cubs slugger in a 2009 interview with "Primer Impacto," a program of the Univision Spanish Network. "It's a cream that I have, that I use to soften [my skin], but has bleached me some. I'm not a racist, I live my life happily."
The photo that once caused so much public turmoil during the 2009 Latin Grammys has now been replaced by the recently posted photo on Twitter of the former baseball player. His dark complexion is now gone and replaced with a "ghost-like" skin color that has not been well received by critics.
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"Skin bleaching" is a cosmetic treatment that targets skin discolorations in order to even out the color of the skin. These cosmetic treatments are available over the counter and by prescription. While it is not exactly known if Sosa applies the skin lightener to his entire body, those who do so could risk mercury poisoning. The Minnesota Department of Health recommends patients who use these skin whitening creams to discontinue use of all these products if they are not used at the direction of a dermatologist.
The ex-Cubs slugger has not revealed the name of the mystery cream but did say he bought it in Europe. He also previously revealed in a Chicago Tribune interview that he had undergone a skin rejuvenation treatment — a treatment that is very common among women.
"I'm going to market it, I'm a businessman," said Sosa, ESPN reports.
Sosa, who retired in 2007, has tried to keep himself out of the spotlight, but it looks like some sunlight might do the former MLB player some good.