Oakland legend Marshawn Lynch reveals he owned a monkey named Lil Pimp

Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch walks off the field after NFL football practice, Friday, Dec. 27, 2019, in Renton, Wash. 

Ted S. Warren/Associated Press

Former Oakland running back Marshawn Lynch is known as one of the most business-savvy football players of his generation, but like most athletes, he made a couple splurges early in his career. Notably, a very small monkey named Lil Pimp.

On this week’s episode of the podcast Smartless, hosted by Will Arnett, Jason Bateman and I Heart Radio award-winner Sean Hayes, Lynch talked about his approach to training, acting career and entrepreneurship. Due to the actors strike — which regular listeners will tell you has taken a serious toll on Smartless’s guest bookings — Lynch only mentioned his appearance on Arnett’s Netflix show “Murderville” in passing, and didn’t discuss his breakout roll in “Bottoms” at all.

Lynch spoke at length about his relationship with Pete Caroll, who he affectionately referred to as a robot for his stamina and upbeat attitude. He also mentioned the Oakland Roots soccer team, of which he is a part owner. But the best moment of the episode came with a question from Hayes. Although he refrained from asking Lynch his favorite color, he did come with one of his best questions in recent memory: what was one of the dumbest things he ever bought? Then Bateman chimed in asking if Lynch had ever bought an animal that belonged in a zoo.


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Saguinus midas, a species of new world monkey known as red- or gold-handed tamarin.

Saguinus midas, a species of new world monkey known as red- or gold-handed tamarin.

Mark Newman/Getty Images

“I bought a monkey. A red-handed tamarin, about as big as my hand. Lil Pimp was his name,” Lynch said, then clarified that there was no apostrophe in the name. The species — Saguinus midas — is sometimes also called a gold-handed tamarin. Native to South America, they typically grow to a maximum of 11 inches, and weigh roughly one pound. 

Lynch assured the hosts that Lil Pimp was not a poop-thrower, but even if he were, the collateral damage would be minimal.


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“He’s so little, if he take a s—t somewhere, it’s like, damn is that rat s—t?

Apparently did have a mighty yelling voice, but it hasn’t been heard for some time — Lil Pimp is no longer alive, as Lynch cited its short lifespan (the animals typically live from 8-15 years).

“Lil Pimp, he was a real true one. RIP Lil Pimp.” He did not specify when he owned the monkey, however keeping a monkey as a pet is illegal in 25 states, including California, Washington and New York, the states in which he played football. This marked the first time that Lynch has mentioned the monkey in an interview.

Ayo Edebiri, left, actor/writer Rachel Sennott, center, and Marshawn Lynch on the set of "Bottoms."

Ayo Edebiri, left, actor/writer Rachel Sennott, center, and Marshawn Lynch on the set of “Bottoms.”

Patti Perret


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Later in the episode, the group went on to discuss Lynch’s lengthy periods of not talking to the media, citing sports reporters’ tendency to praise performance, but double down on controversy. Throughout his career, Lynch has had several run-ins with the law, including a misdeamor DUI charge for which a two-day trial is scheduled to start on Nov. 8. He also pled guilty to a hit and run charge in 2008, and pled guilty to a reckless driving charge in 2014. 

The hosts went on to complain about journalists’ tendency to emphasize negative angles of stories in order to attract readers. But according to Lynch, there wasn’t anything negative about Lil Pimp.

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