Jamaican bobsledders ride Dogecoin into Olympics

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Jamaican bobsledders ride Dogecoin into Olympics


Kavitha A. Davidson

Somebody get Doug E. Doug on the phone: The Jamaican bobsled team is about to return to the Winter Olympics. After qualifying for the two-man competition last month, the team’s prospects of attending the games for the first time since 2002 were in serious doubt over the cost. Thanks to an electronic fund-raising campaign driven by some 1990s nostalgia, Jamaica is a major step closer to Sochi.

The team - led by Winston Watt, a veteran driver who piloted the Olympic team in 2002, and anchored by brakeman Marvin Dixon - has found support among the founders of Dogecoin, the cryptocurrency that is part Bitcoin, part Internet dog meme. Liam Butler, who runs the Dogecoin Foundation, started Dogesled to raise money for the team after hearing that Watt had personally funded its trip to a training session but would be unable to come up with the money needed to fly the team to Sochi, Russia. The Dogesled fund raised almost $25,000 in 12 hours - causing the Dogecoin to Bitcoin exchange rate to spike by about 50 percent - and has reached its $30,000 goal.

No doubt the push to send the team to the Olympics is fueled by the cult following of 1993’s “Cool Runnings,” the quintessential underdog movie. The film was loosely based on the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team that became the country’s first to qualify for the Olympics, an incredible feat for four men from a tropical country with little to no experience on snow. As I’ve noted before, the generation that grew up in the ’90s is and should be a prime target for sports leagues and marketers - we’re more engaged with social media and are willing to spend our money on such nostalgia.

The Jamaican bobsled team also represents a great human-interest story in a competition oversaturated with tales of overcoming hardship. The 46-year-old Watts came out of retirement in hopes of appearing in his fourth Olympics and has been putting up his own money to fund the team’s quest. The bobsled team receives virtually no support from the Jamaican Olympic Association, leaving the fund-raising up to Watts and Dixon themselves.

Fortunately, those of us who love a good underdog story have stepped up, with organizations such as Dogecoin and Samsung joining the effort. Thanks to the power of crowdsourcing and ’90s pop culture, bobsledding fans will likely be able to “feel the rhythm, feel the rhyme” once again in Sochi.

By Kavitha A. Davidson Bloomberg View sports columnist
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