Former NFL player and wrestler Lenwood Hamilton has filed a lawsuit in which he claims the developers of Gears of War used his likeness without permission for the character Augustus Cole AKA “Cole Train.” No defendant is named in the TMZ report that brought the lawsuit to light, but GI.biz confirmed that Microsoft and Epic Games are named in the legal document.
According to the report, a friend of Hamilton’s son showed him a Gears of War game in January 2016 and he was shocked to see that Cole Train looked and sounded like him. In his lawsuit, Hamilton says a “forensic voice examiner” he hired determined that his voice and Cole Train’s are indistinguishable. Hamilton claims that Cole Train’s derby hat, wrist bands, and gold front tooth are based on his own fashion choices.
Lester Speight is officially credited with voicing Cole Train in the Gears of War series–and Hamilton is suing him as well. “Hamilton says Speight used to work with his wrestling company and they talked about creating a video game character,” TMZ reported.
Here is a specific line from Hamilton’s lawsuit, as published by GI.biz:
“The similarities of the avatar ‘Cole Train’ and Hard Rock Hamilton [Hamilton’s wrestler name] include that both are black (and ‘Cole Train’ is the only black avatar in the Gears of War series), they both played professional football (although in Gears of War the game is called ‘thrashball’), Cole Train’s number is 83 (same year that Hamilton played for the Philidelphia Eagles – 1983), the derby hat, wristbands, a front gold tooth, and a striking resemblance of both physiognomy and body build.”
According to the report, Hamilton is suing “for sales and profits,” though a specific figure was not mentioned. The series has reportedly sold 27 million copies and brought in more than $1 billion in revenue since it debuted in 2006.
A spokesperson for Epic Games declined to comment. Microsoft had not responded to GameSpot’s request for comment at press time.
Microsoft acquired the Gears of War franchise from Epic Games in January 2014 for an undisclosed sum. The newest game in the series is Gears of War 4, which came out in October 2016.