SBD/Issue 94/Olympics

"Colbert Nation" Donations To U.S. Speedskating Surpass $300,000

Hedrick Calls "Colbert Nation"
Sponsorship A Blessing
Fans of Comedy Central's "The Colbert Report" have been "donating money to U.S. Speedskating since November via the 'Colbert Nation' website," and host Stephen Colbert last Tuesday "supplemented their $299,993 ... to push the total to $300,000, an amount that has piqued the interest of other cash-starved Olympic sports seeking new fundraising methods," according to Rachel Blount of the Minneapolis STAR TRIBUNE. U.S. Speedskating Exec Dir Bob Crowley: "When we started, we had no idea if we'd raise $5 or $50,000. It's been a great adventure and a lot of fun. The Colbert Nation has been our knight in shining armor." U.S. speedskater Chad Hedrick said of Colbert, "For him to jump in and become a fan, to want to support us and raise money for us, it's a blessing. It's great to get the athletes in the public eye." Meanwhile, Crowley said that Colbert's sponsorship "has attracted more potential partners," and it also has "gained attention from the governing bodies of other U.S. Olympic sports, which have to hustle for sponsor dollars even in good economic times." USOC Chief of Sport Performance Mike English: "The new funding opportunity with Stephen Colbert was an exciting breakthrough. It's revolutionary. It's a unique opportunity that caught us by surprise, but those are good surprises" (STARTRIBUNE.com, 1/27).

INTO THE SPOTLIGHT: In Salt Lake City, Martin Renzhofer wrote while U.S. speedskater Katherine Reutter "has made a name for herself inside the sport, it was an appearance on Comedy Central's 'The Colbert Report' that has brought" her into the "spotlight." Reutter said there has been "so much positive coverage" of U.S. speedskating since "The Colbert Report" began sponsoring the team, as Colbert "has pinpointed [the team] into a specific group." Reutter: "Followers of the 'Colbert Report' actually know about speedskating. They can relate to us." U.S. speedskater Alyson Dudek: "People thought that Colbert sponsoring us would turn the sport into a joke. That has never happened" (SALT LAKE TRIBUNE, 1/27). U.S. speedskater J.R. Celski said Colbert is "awesome." Celski: "I didn't really pay much attention to him, but my friends kind of got me into him and I was really surprised when he picked us up as a sponsor." Meanwhile, Celski noted he has an endorsement deal with Wheaties, and when asked if he would be featured on the box, Celski said, "If I do good at the Games, hopefully I'll get it" (SEATTLETIMES.com, 1/26).

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