Why does Heisman Trophy finalist Caleb Williams wear nail polish?

Joshua Rogers December 6, 2022
Why does Heisman Trophy finalist Caleb Williams wear nail polish?
Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

The Heisman Trophy finalist has made a statement over recent months with his creative look. Fans want to know why Caleb Williams wears nail polish and paints his nails.

The four finalists for this year’s Heisman Trophy have been announced, with one of USC’s Caleb Williams, Ohio State’s CJ Stroud, TCU’s Max Duggan, and Georgia’s Stetson Bennett set to win the prestigious award.

Former Oklahoma Sooners QB Caleb Williams committed to USC last year, where he has continued to impress as a true sophomore.

The 21-year-old threw for 4,075 yards, 37 touchdowns, and only four interceptions, as well as rushing for 372 yards and 10 TDs. However, a hamstring injury at the end of the season meant he was compromised in the Pac-12 title game against the Utah Utes.

Utah won the Championship Game 47-24, meaning USC and Williams will not be in the College Football Playoff.

Caleb Williams’ nails caused a stir in recent months

Caleb Williams has long been known to paint his nails, and over recent months they’ve caused quite a stir. Back in November, an up-close photo revealed the quarterback’s painted fingernails read “F*** ND” during the Trojans’ 38-27 victory over Notre Dame.

In the recent Pac-12 Championship Game, Williams painted his nails with the message ‘F*** UTAH’. However, the message somewhat backfired as the Utes came away with the victory.

Afterward, Utah QB Cam Rising said: ‘It is what it is. You can do whatever you want. Put whatever you want on your nails. I’m not going to judge you for whatever you do, but hope you liked it.’

Photo by David Becker/Getty Images

So why does Caleb Williams paint his nails with nail polish?

After transferring to USC last year, Williams spoke with ABC’s Robin Roberts on Good Morning America, where he explained the origins of painting his nails.

He revealed that the nails are inspired by his nail technician mother, who he is incredibly close to. Williams said: “My mom was my inspiration. I mean, she’s been doing nails since I could remember. And she’s always done it. I think since she was probably like 14, she’s always done it.

“So, that was a little time before I was born. And so ever since I was born, she’s been doing it. I would always sit around or just you know, either I’m playing my game or I’ll mess my mom, I still mess my mom a lot. So I was playing my game, messing with my mom, and kind of just sitting there she’d always do my nails. I didn’t get paint on him, but she’d always do ’em.” 

Back in October, Williams used his nails to promote mental health. Before the USC vs Washington State game, which came two days before World Mental Health Day, Williams painted his nails with 988, the phone number of the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline:

Wiliams has been open about his own mental health struggles in the past. According to Outkick, he founded the Caleb Cares Foundation, which is dedicated to eliminating bullying, increasing mental health awareness, and empowering the underdog.

It has led to a unique business venture

Williams’ painted nails have also led to a unique NIL opportunity. Over the summer he became part-owner of Faculty, a modern grooming brand that specializes in nail art.

Williams also revealed that he started painting his nails after seeing artists like rappers A$AP Rocky and Lil Yachty doing so. He explained that it allows him to express himself creatively:

“You know, some people love it, some people hate it,” Williams said, via Beauty Inc. “Either way I don’t really care. I never have been one to care much about what people have to say or think about me. Just kind of do as I feel and if people like it great, if they don’t, whatever.

“I feel like everyone should express themselves however they choose. If me painting my nails playing football helps some people feel more confident in expressing themselves then great.”

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Joshua is a Senior Sports Writer at GRV Media with over five years of experience in online writing and editing. After receiving a BA (Hons) in Ancient History and an MA in Sports Journalism, he became a writer for a leading social publisher with over 7 million Facebook followers. Joshua then joined Reach PLC, covering the 2018 World Cup for The Mirror Online and regional publications like the Liverpool Echo. He then moved to a social media marketing agency and content studio, Brave Bison, acting as Website Editor for The Hook. Joshua now oversees all sports content on The Focus, specializing in NBA, NFL, F1, and tennis, while also keeping a close eye on his beloved Manchester United.