When kids and parents alike roar, and nine-time NBA All-Star Chris Paul slides into the scene and sends up a massive splash of green slime with confetti exploding all around, you know it is time for the fifth annual Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports awards. The show, which taped on Thursday, airs Friday, July 20, at 8 p.m. ET on Nick.
The biggest honor of the night went to Danica Patrick, for her perseverance in breaking barriers in both IndyCar and NASCAR. Last year’s Legend Award winner, Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever, had a few words of advice for Patrick before she received her award. “I told her to keep her mouth shut,” he laughed. “She’ll probably still be finding slime in her ears and nose hours after the show.”
He was right. Moments after Patrick held her blimp, canons rose up and fired gold slime from just feet away, leaving her looking like a gold statuette herself.
Phelps was not just at the show to provide support, though; he had to compete in a head-to-head event against the host, Houston Rockets point guard Chris Paul. To promote the return of the Nickelodeon show Double Dare, Paul and Phelps squeezed through bubble rollers, kicked through spaghetti sauce–covered balls, and fished in slime-filled toilets—all for bragging rights. It was Paul’s night.
But this is a show for kids, and kids lit up the evening. One had a chance to sink a half-court shot and win $50,000 (narrowly missed), and there was a “slime dunk” challenge in which kids could make baskets to dunk their pro athlete teammate in a tank of slime. (Both pros, Candace Parker of the L.A. Sparks and Isaiah Thomas of the Denver Nuggets, went down.) Kids starred in every part of show, from appearing in live backdrops whenever a winner was announced, to dancing in between set changes.
The athletes came ready to motivate the kids. “Find what you love and do it,” cheered Patrick as she received her Legend Award. “Dream huge and you’ll make it.”
Hands of Gold winner Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers added that he wanted “to encourage every kid to believe in themselves.”
Setting the stage for an inspirational evening early, many athletes and celebrities spoke about their careers on Nickelodeon’s orange carpet before the show. “My swag on the field is myself—being myself,” said Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce when talking about the night’s King of Swag award and how he brings swag to the field. “Always be yourself,” he added, echoing the night’s motivational message.
Kelce put his message into action with an on-stage challenge that required all 6’5” and 260 pounds of himself. Backed up by a team of kids, Kelce pulled a full-size school bus filled with kids across the finish line, just before the recently retired New England Patriots Super Bowl champ Martellus Bennett and his team of kids pulled theirs across. Bennett took the loss in stride, proud of his effort since he had pointed out earlier he’s “still training and still staying healthy. Healthy is wealthy!”
This show that sparkles with fun, challenges, and motivational messages is at its core all about sports. “My sport saved me,” said WWE wrestler Roman Reigns, who walked into the show holding his young daughter’s hand. “The WWE gave me an opportunity at a very low time in my life.”
Nickelodeon Kids’ Choice Sports 2018 highlighted athletes but featured, promoted, rewarded, and starred kids. Athlete after athlete walked the carpet and enjoyed the show with their children.
With his arms around his young daughter and son, Rockets small forward P.J. Tucker turned and smiled as he walked into the awards show. “I surprised my kids by bringing them today,” he said. “Hey, it’s an event that combines slime and sports.” Perfect.
Here’s a full list of winners from the show:
Favorite Female Athlete: Alex Morgan
Favorite Male Athlete: LeBron James
King of Swag: Odell Beckham Jr.
Queen of Swag: Serena Williams
Best Cannon: Russell Wilson
Biggest Powerhouse: Rob Gronkowski
Clutch Player of the Year: Kevin Durant
Don’t Try this at Home: Chloe Kim
Favorite Newcomer: Alisha Gray
Hands of Gold: Antonio Brown
Heavy Hitter: Venus Williams
Nothing but Net: Chris Paul
Sickest Moves: Stephen Curry
Winter Wonders: Shaun White
Biggest Kid: Laurie Hernandez
Most Valuable Most Valuable Player: James Harden
Play of the Year: LeBron James’ Alley-Oop to Himself
Top photograph by: Emma McIntyre/VMN18/Getty Images For Nickelodeon