Rio de Janeiro was not my first Olympic experience. If you count living in Munich as an infant in 1972, this was my sixth time at the Olympic Games. Half of those can be chalked up to my time as founder and editor-in-chief of a magazine for Olympic pin collectors called—I kid you not—Pindemonium.
Fresh out of the University of Georgia with a journalism degree, I was an aspiring freelance travel writer, who was taking any corporate copywriting job to pay the bills. My dad had gotten a handful of Olympic pins for Christmas a couple of years before the Summer Games were headed to Atlanta, and he started going to meet-ups for pin traders. My brother and I realized this was a huge hobby with no publication, and we found some advertisers and pin experts and printed up some copies of Issue #1.
While I eventually founded a publication that more closely matched my passion for music, movies, TV, comedy, books, food, craft beer, travel and the other sections you see in the navigation bar above, I’m thankful for those early experiences of starting something from scratch. Pindeomonium gave me the chance to go to the Olympics in Nagano, Japan; Sydney, Australia; and Salt Lake City, Utah. It put me in a room in Lausanne, Switzerland, with Nelson Mandela and Luciano Pavarotti, during the bid process for the 2004 Games. It got me invitations to South Africa to be a consultant for the Cape Town Olympic Bid Committee and as a guest on The Today Show, where I swapped pins with Katie Couric in Sydney.
So I had to bring some pins to trade in Rio, where I met athletes from Fiji, Ecuador and Australia that I otherwise would never have had the reason to strike up a conversation with. The above video offers a glimpse in the fun, slightly crazy world of Olympic pin traders.