Once a brilliant Test cricket star, Shane Warne is now making millions by turning his controversial private life into a public spectacle, writes Sue Smethurst.
On Australia Day morning, Shane Warne rolled out of bed and did what any self-respecting international playboy would do. Ciggie in hand, he grabbed his phone and tweeted to his 306,000 social media mates that his mouth felt like "the bottom of the budgie cage" after a marathon night at the poker table. Dozens offered remedies, from potato cakes to fish oil tablets, but the cricket legend settled on his favourite hang-over fare, tinned spaghetti on toast, a Berocca, a banana milkshake and, of course, "a ciggie" to top it off.
Among the tweets was a morning missive from British bombshell Liz Hurley. The supermodel cooed, "Ping Pong [her pet budgie] would like to peck you, you'd be her first blond."
And that cheeky little tweet, with its Benny Hill-ish double entendre and sexual innuendo, holds the key as to how the baked bean-loving larrikin has become red carpet royalty. Billionaires befriend him, Hollywood superstars party with him, rock ‘n' roll icons adore him and, of course, women swoon over him – and he shares every delicious detail with an insatiable "twittersphere".
Shane Warne Inc is big business and the more he plays, the more it pays. With the click of a camera, Shane Warne was smashed into the celebrity stratosphere last December, when the paparazzi snapped him passionately kissing Liz Hurley, a married model and one of the world's most beautiful women, at an upmarket London hotel.
At the same time, on the other side of the globe, Shane, who had been sharing a house in Melbourne with his former wife, Simone, and their children, was alleged to be pestering married mother Adele Angeleri for sex, bombarding the 44-year-old, who owns a fashion store opposite the offices of The Shane Warne Foundation, with graphic "sext" messages to seduce her. He said she made him "horny" and pleaded "I want to see you riding me".
Her furious husband, Dennis, passed on dozens of the 100-odd dirty text messages to the British tabloid News Of The World and the heady love triangle of the married mother, her bitter husband, a British supermodel and the sporting superstar had tabloid editors in a spin.
In the past, Adele and Dennis Angeleri would have pocketed a hefty sum for sharing their sordid details and Australia's greatest spin bowler would've called upon powerful media mates to assist with damage control. Not this time, though, because rather than bemoaning the press coverage of his latest scandal, playboy Shane is having the last laugh, cleverly milking the moment by tweeting every move he makes to his growing fan club and world's press.
The cricket superstar, whose genius on the field is unsurpassed, is cashing in on his playboy image and every scandalous new headline is only adding to the bank balance of Shane Warne Inc. "Before he met Liz Hurley, if you weren't a cricket fan, you probably wouldn't know much about him. Now you do!" says legendary UK publicist Max Clifford, who believes that "Warnie's" relationship with Liz Hurley has dramatically increased his celebrity status in the UK and the lucrative cricket-mad Indian market, where Liz was married to millionaire businessman Arun Nayar.
"Millions more now know who he is. This has been a stellar career move," says the publicist. "He will now be one of the first ones on the invitation list for movie premieres and A-list events, and in terms of his earning capacity, he's doubled, even tripled his earning potential."
So, why is it that with such a notorious reputation, women are still attracted to Shane Warne? With his dazzlingly bleached white teeth, Tuscan spray tan and mysteriously smoothed forehead (he swears he's never had Botox or surgery, despite his appearance changing quite dramatically over the past few years), women seem to fall as easily as wickets…
Read more of this story in the March issue of The Australian Women's Weekly.
Video: Porn star claims affair with Warnie