Is Giannis Antetokounmpo a US citizen?

Jake Nichol November 9, 2021
Is Giannis Antetokounmpo a US citizen?
Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images

2021 NBA champions the Milwaukee Bucks have made the traditional visit to the White House to meet the president, including star man Giannis Antetokounmpo, but he is a US citizen?

President Joe Biden welcomed the Bucks to the White House on Monday (8 November 2021). Among them was 6ft 11in power forward Antetokounmpo, who towered over the 5ft 11in president.

But is the basketball star a US citizen? Where was he born and were special steps taken to get him into the NBA?

Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images

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Where was Giannis born?

Giannis Adetokunbo was born in Athens in December 1994. However, his parents couldn’t register him as a Greek citizen because they weren’t Greek but hailed from Lagos, Nigeria, instead.

This effectively made the future basketball star stateless for more than 18 years. This meant he couldn’t leave Greece as he had no passport or official papers.

It was only in 2013, when his basketball talent took him to the cusp of the NBA draft, that something was done about his citizenship.

Photo by Mike Stobe/Getty Images

Giannis was officially made a Greek citizen, with his surname changed in the process. The Greek transcription of Adetokunbo became Antetokonmpo, which is the name on his passport.

For good measure, he received a Nigerian passport in 2015.

Is Giannis a US citizen?

After receiving his Greek citizenship, Giannis headed to the US for the 2013 draft. He was picked up by the Bucks as the 15th overall pick in the first round.

Things have gone rather well since. As well as being a 2021 champion, the ‘Greek Freak’ won MVP at the 2021 finals and most valuable player in 2019 and 2020. He’s also a five-time NBA All-Star and a three-time member of the All-NBA first team.

But is Giannis a US citizen? The answer is no.

Giannis holds dual citizenship of Greece and Nigeria. He could potentially become a US citizen through naturalisation.

However, he couldn’t follow in Biden or Trump’s footsteps as a US president. To qualify for that job you must be a “natural-born citizen” of the United States as written in Article Two, Section 1, Clause 5 of the Constitution.

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Jake can usually be found writing about or watching anything to do with motorsport – from Formula 1 to NASCAR to British Truck Racing. His work as a motorsport journalist has been published by the likes of Autosport, Motorsport.com and Motorsport News – all highly respected names. Away from racing he is a keen amateur astronomer, podcast listener and enjoys long walks in the park with his three dogs.