Two weeks after his lucky escape from a shark attack, Mick Fanning has donated a $75,000 television appearance fee to Mathew Lee, the surfer who was mauled by a great white in Ballina early last month.
The three-times world champion Fanning gave an interview to Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes program on Sunday night to talk about his ordeal at Jeffreys Bay, from which he walked away unscathed.
Lee was less fortunate and has undergone surgery on both legs after the attack by a sizeable shark – up to four metres long, according to eye witness accounts – while bodyboarding off Lighthouse Beach on 2 July. He remains at the Gold Coast University hospital.
David Gyngell, Nine network chief executive, pledged to donate a further $25,000 to Lee for his ongoing treatment and rehabilitation.
Lee’s family posted their thanks in a entry on a Facebook page set up to support the stricken surfer.
“Mick Fanning and David Gyngell,” the statement read. “No words can describe how grateful we are for the generous donation.”
Fanning was hoping to visit Lee at his hospital bed for the program, but the 32-year-old from Ballina was due to undergo more surgery and the meeting did not materialise, according to Newscorp.
As part of the 60 Minutes show cameras followed Fanning, who fended off the shark in South Africa with a few swiftly-timed punches, as he went for a surf at Hastings Point.
Almost unbelievably, the 34-year-old had another close call, saying he spotted a fin while in the water off the New South Wales coast.
“We were sitting on there and then we sort of looked and we just saw a tiny little fin,” Fanning said back on the beach.
“You wouldn’t believe it – yeah, I swear to God ... it was a full shark, hey.”
During the interview, Fanning revealed he would be seeking professional help to conquer his demons following the attack during the World Surfing League event at J-Bay.
“I guess when something like this happens, you’re in your own mind, and your mind can play tricks on you,” Fanning said. “Your mind can … turn shadows into demons, or stuff like that.
“And then you sort of have, like, different self-doubts, and like, why did I get away with that? I’m going to seek help, for sure. I think it’s the only way to deal with it.”
This article was written by Mike Hytner, for theguardian.com on Monday 3rd August 2015 02.48 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010