In case you missed it… Yesterday, Michael Oher dropped a bombshell on his supposed adoptive parents, Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy.
In a petition Michael Oher filed in Tennessee, Michael demanded to have a conservatorship that has overseen his life since 2004 immediately dismantled. The petition contained a number of uncomfortable allegations. The biggest of which being that Sean and Leigh Anne Tuohy never actually adopted Michael, as it is portrayed in the 2009 film adaptation of his teenage years, “The Blind Side.” Michael claimed that the Tuohys were one of several families he periodically lived with during his high school years, but Sean and Leigh Anne saw him as “a gullible young man whose athletic talent could be exploited for their own benefit.”
That’s not all. Anyone who saw “The Blind Side” may have been under the impression that Michael was adopted by the Tuohys. Michael claims that was a false narrative. In reality he was placed into a conservatorship allegedly so Sean and Leigh Anne could control his name, image and likeness. Michael claims that the conservatorship made it so he could not sign a contract without their approval and that Sean and Leigh Anne sold his life rights to 20th Century Fox “without any payment whatsoever.“
As stated in the petition:
“Since at least August of 2004, Conservators have allowed Michael, specifically, and the public, generally, to believe that Conservators adopted Michael and have used that untruth to gain financial advantages for themselves and the foundations which they own or which they exercise control. All monies made in said manner should in all conscience and equity be disgorged and paid over to the said ward, Michael Oher.“
But perhaps the most shocking allegation was related to the amount of money Michael claims his so-called family members earned off “The Blind Side.”
Michael’s petition claims that Sean and Leigh Anne struck a deal with the films producers that gave both of them AND their two biological children, Collins and Sean Jr., a one-off payment of $225,000 AND 2.5% of the movie’s “defined net proceeds.”
That’s $225k and 2.5% PER PERSON.
Michael’s petition claims that all four members of the Tuohy family earned millions off the movie. And that somewhat adds up when you consider that “The Blind Side” made over $300 million off a budget of just $30 million. If you assume the movie profited even just $150 million that would have worked out to $225,000 + $3.75 million = $4 million per person.
Michael claims he never earned a dollar off the film.
In addition to being shocking, these allegations utterly destroy the movie and book that are both mostly based on Michael’s life story. The book, which was written by Michael Lewis – who was Sean and Leigh Anne’s classmate at the University of Mississippi – has sold millions of copies. The movie earned Sandra Bullock a Best Actress Oscar and continues to be extremely popular on streaming services.
The Tuohys did not have a response to the allegations yesterday. Today Sean Tuohy gave a lengthy interview with the Daily Memphian in which he strongly pushed back on Michael’s story…
First and foremost, Sean claims that his whole family is “devastated” by Michael’s petition and allegations.
Next he refuted the allegation that the family made “millions” off “The Blind Side.” Specifically he explained:
“We didn’t make any money off the movie. Well, Michael Lewis, gave us half of his share. Everybody in the family got an equal share, including Michael. It was about $14,000, each.“
Sean further stated that after selling their restaurant franchises for over $200 million, he was offended by the idea the family would want or even need to profit off Michael.
FYI: At their peak Sean and Leigh Anne owned 115 franchises of Taco Bell, Kentucky Fried Chicken, Pizza Hut, and Long John Silver’s. The Tuohys sold the majority of the franchises over six different transactions for a combined total windfall of $213 million. And that’s after presumably earning tens of millions in profits over the years. So it is admittedly a little hard to understand why they would also want to take millions away from Michael.
As for why Sean and Leigh Anne opted to be his conservators instead of adopting him, Sean explained:
“We contacted lawyers who had told us that we couldn’t adopt over the age of 18. The only thing we could do was to have a conservatorship. We were so concerned it was on the up-and-up that we made sure the biological mother came to court.“
That does seem to make sense. As for why he needed to be in a conservatorship or adopted at all, Sean claimed it had to do with the fact that he was a booster at Mississippi and Michael got into the school as a legacy. So NCAA rules required there to be some formal/legal connection.
Again, that makes sense.
Michael went on to earn over $30 million during his NFL career, which lasted from 2009 to 2017. He won a Super Bowl with the Ravens in 2013. The petition doesn’t appear to allege that Sean and Leigh Anne took any of his NFL money. If they did, or if they controlled his adult life in any other way…. Britney Spears-style, that would certainly be a different story. Whatever the driving force, this is a sad ending to what had been a remarkable and heart-warming story. I can only imagine how Sean and Leigh Anne felt when they learned of Michael’s petition and allegations. I imagine they felt… blindsided.