Pita Taufatofua has become one of the most recognizable Olympic figures over the past two years after he served as Tonga’s flag bearer in Rio and PyeongChang, and he may have plans to cash in on that in the near future.
Taufatofua was stopped by a TMZ cameraman at LAX this week, and he was asked if he has any plans to do modeling shoots now that the Olympics have concluded. The 34-year-old did not rule it out.
“You never know. I’m here in L.A. You never know what’s gonna happen,” he said. “Stay tuned. We’ve got a few things lined up, so we’re just gonna see what eventuates.”
Taufatofua, who is a native of Australia, added that making money is not as important to him as representing a company with good morals.
“I’m about brands that actually help people and help people feel good,” he said. “The clothing that they wear makes them feel good — corporate responsibility and social responsibility. I want a responsible brand that helps people. It’s not interesting for me unless other people are being lifted up.”
If you saw what Taufatofua was able to accomplish in skiing at the Winter Olympics, you know he can pretty much do anything he sets his mind to. Given all the attention he got for going shirtless and oiled up during two opening ceremonies, it’s probably safe to assume plenty of companies would want him as an endorser.
Many Olympians did more than just compete for medals at the Winter Games in PyeongChang this year, and U.S. skier Gus Kenworthy and snowboarder Maddie Mastro are traveling home with new pets after they took a stand against animal cruelty.
Over the weekend, Kenworthy and his boyfriend Matthew Wilkas took a trip to a South Korean dog farm where dogs are raised to be slaughtered and sold for meat. In a lengthy Instagram post, Kentworthy wrote about how the dogs are living in “some of the most deplorable conditions imaginable.”
This morning Matt and I had a heart-wrenching visit to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea. Across the country there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable. Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don't personally agree with it, I do agree that it's not my place to impose western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty. I was told that the dogs on this particular farm were kept in "good conditions" by comparison to other farms. The dogs here are malnourished and physically abused, crammed into tiny wire-floored pens, and exposed to the freezing winter elements and scorching summer conditions. When it comes time to put one down it is done so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes. Despite the beliefs of some, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home. Some of them were even pets at one time and were stolen or found and sold into the dog meat trade. Luckily, this particular farm (thanks to the hard work of the Humane Society International and the cooperation of a farmer who's seen the error of his ways) is being permanently shut down and all 90 of the dogs here will be brought to the US and Canada where they'll find their fur-ever homes. I adopted the sweet baby in the first pic (we named her Beemo) and she'll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she's through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks. I cannot wait to give her the best life possible! There are still millions of dogs here in need of help though (like the Great Pyrenees in the 2nd pic who was truly the sweetest dog ever). I'm hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the US where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes! Go to @hsiglobal's page to see how you can help. #dogsarefriendsnotfood #adoptdontshop ❤️????
“Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don’t personally agree with it, I do agree that it’s not my place to impose western ideals on the people here,” Kenworthy wrote. “The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty. … The dogs here are malnourished and physically abused, crammed into tiny wire-floored pens, and exposed to the freezing winter elements and scorching summer conditions. When it comes time to put one down it is done so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes.”
As you can see from the photo, Kenworthy and Wilkas ended up adopting one of the dogs. They also helped to get the farm shut down with help from the Humane Society International, and all 90 of the dogs that were living at the farm are being sent to the U.S. and Canada. Mastro is also returning home with a new friend, though she told TMZ she already has three rescue dogs and will need to find a home for the dog she saved.
Kenworthy, who showed off his great sense of humor during the Olympics this month, is obviously passionate about animals. Neither he nor Mastro won a medal in PyeongChang, but they have to be feeling pretty good about what they accomplished.
The 2018 Winter Olympics in PyeongChang are in the books. Norway led the way in the medal count, bringing home 38 in total. Germany, including a surprising silver by their men’s hockey team, was next, and the U.S. was fourth with 23 medals.
From start to finish, there were shocking moments, controversies, messages of hope and peace, and some of the greatest athletic feats in the history of mankind.
Here’s a look at the 15 best moments from the 2018 Games:
15. North Korea and South Korea unite during opening ceremonies
Much was made over the North Koreans and South Koreans finding enough common ground so that both could compete in the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. And while some of it may have been political posturing, at least for one brief moment, the two sides found peace and marched proudly under one flag during the opening ceremonies. It was in stark contrast to the 1988 Games held in Seoul, where the North Koreans not only refused to compete, but carried out a terrorist attack on a South Korean jetliner 10 months prior to the opening ceremonies. And considering North Korea could be seen from the mountain slopes in the Gangwon Province, it was particularly symbolic — a memorable and hopeful way to open the games.
Adam Rippon will likely have plenty of endorsement opportunities after he became one of the breakout stars of the 2018 Winter Olympics, but a partnership with McDonald’s seems unlikely.
Rippon, who won a bronze medal in figure skating in PyeongChang, said on Saturday that he hit the free McDonald’s at the Olympics a bit too hard. The 28-year-old joked that he is going to beg his trainer for help.
As we learned with his hilarious live interview early on in the Winter Games, Rippon has a great sense of humor. McDonald’s is one of the official sponsors of the Olympics, but that doesn’t mean eating Big Macs for two weeks has any less impact on the greatest athletes in the world. Rippon appears to have learned that the hard way.
The Norwegian curling team of Kristin Skaslien and Magnus Nedregotten flew back to the Olympics in PyeongChang in order to receive their bronze medals in mixed doubles.
Skaslien and Nedregotten originally lost to the Russian team of Alexander Krushelnitsky and Anastasia Bryzgalov, but things changed after Krushelnitsky tested positive for banned substance meldonium. The Russian husband and wife team ended up giving back their bronze medals, which then went to the Norwegian team.
Nedregotten had said during the week that he wanted to have a medal ceremony after being “robbed” of the moment by the cheating Russian team. The IOC made it up to them, flying him and Skaslien in from Norway first class. They received their medals at a ceremony on Saturday night.
It all worked out well in the end.
Not even a gold medal at the Olympics could help the US curling team score an upgrade with the rigid folks at Delta Airlines.
Team USA curling won its first ever gold medal at the Winter Olympics when John Shuster’s team defeated Sweden 10-7 on Saturday in South Korea. Feeling pretty good about their gold medal status and newfound fame, the person running the USA Curling Twitter account decided to shoot their shot with Delta.
The USA Curling account told Delta that they were flying home from the Olympics on Monday and asked for an upgrade.
Delta congratulated them via Twitter, said they were honored to be their ride back home, but shot down the upgrade request.
There shall be no special treatment for anyone! Not even gold medalists!
Perhaps the curling team should have booked their flights through United Airlines, which is the official U.S. sponsor of the Olympics. They might have been more likely to provide the hookup. But as this fellow showed us, it’s never a bad idea to shoot your shot, regardless of how long the odds may seem.
Tom Kelly is proving to be a man of his word at the PyeongChang Games.
Kelly, who is vice president of communications for the U.S. Ski & Snowboard Team, fulfilled a 12-year promise to skier Kikkan Randall. After Randall won gold in cross-country this week during the women’s team sprint freestyle event, Kelly dyed his hair pink, per Steve Reed of the Associated Press.
The 35-year-old Randall took home the gold along with teammate Jessie Diggins in their event on Thursday. It was the first-ever gold medal for the United States in cross-country. Considering how dramatic their victory was as well, Kelly was probably more than happy to make good on his pilary promise.
The Winter Olympics may have a controversy on their hands.
During the men’s giant slalom semifinals, Slovenian Zan Kosir and South Korean Lee Sang-Ho were pitted against each other for the right to advance. The race was extremely close, with Lee winning the race by .01.
Replays of the finish, however, showed that Kosir certainly looked to have gotten his arm across the finish line before Lee did.
Admittedly, the angle of the camera isn’t directly in line with the finish. However, there were indications that something was off. According to Kevin Kaduk of Yahoo Sports, Kosir raised his arms in celebration upon crossing the line, and he protested when he saw the replay of the finish. It certainly looks like he had plenty of reason to complain.
There have been some wild finishes at these Olympics, but this is just bizarre. Lee went on to lose in the final while Kosir wound up with the bronze, but that might not be much consolation.
Many athletes come to the Olympic Games with very high expectations, both for themselves and from their country. Many of them are world champions in their chosen sport and have been building up for four years just for this moment. One can only imagine, then, the disappointment and heartbreak if things don’t go as planned, be it their own fault or something outside of their control.
Here are 10 big disappointments from the 2018 Winter Olympics.
1) Olympic hockey being determined by shootouts
There is a practical reason why Olympic hockey games — both men’s and women’s — have been settled by so many shootouts. The nature of the tournament — and the small window of time in which the games must be played — makes it impractical to play limitless overtime periods to settle tie games. Still, there’s something somewhat unsatisfying about seeing high-pressure games come down to what is ultimately a skills competition, which is how the American women won their gold medal and how the American men were knocked out of the tournament. It’s hard to suggest an alternative, but it’s just another reason why the Olympic tournaments are vastly inferior to, say, the Stanley Cup Playoffs in terms of quality. At the least, perhaps medal games should not be determined by shootouts.
2) U.S. female figure skaters
The German Foreign Office sent out a humorous tweet on Friday.
In response to Germany’s shocking 4-3 win over Canada in the semifinals of the men’s hockey tournament, they sent out the following tweet advising Germans to treat Canadians kindly and not gloat.
The loss for Canada hurts, but the lack of NHL players being involved probably mitigates the disappointment to a degree. But between this and Canada’s women losing the gold medal game to the US, it’s been a rough few days for the Canadians.