2022 Topical Reporting: Olympics and Paralympics Coverage, Medium Newsroom finalist

My New Favorite Olympian

About the Project

The goal of My New Favorite Olympian was to introduce listeners to the most inspiring members of Team USA and the causes they champion, building new stars that listeners would want to watch on NBC during the Olympics. Take track and field for example…most Olympic fans were already familiar with Allyson Felix entering the Tokyo 2020 Games, so we instead decided to profile Harvard sprinter Gabby Thomas, since not even the most diehard of track fans knew her incredible story. When the pandemic hit, Thomas enrolled in a master’s program to study epidemiology with the goal of making the healthcare system more equitable for African Americans. Not only did we give Thomas a platform to tell her inspiring story, but we also interviewed her mom, Jennifer, and even her favorite Harvard professor, Evelynn Hammond. When Thomas won two Olympic medals in Tokyo, she became an “overnight sensation.” But listeners of My New Favorite Olympian were already rooting for her well before the Tokyo Olympics! My New Favorite Olympian successfully introduced Olympic fans to under-the-radar athletes like Thomas and gave them a reason to watch NBC’s Olympic television coverage to support their new favorite athletes.

The modern sports fan can already hear directly from their favorite athletes on a variety of different platforms, so My New Favorite Olympian incorporated a number of different voices into each highly produced narrative episode, from family members to subject- matter experts. For example, in the episode on swimmer Nathan Adrian’s battle with testicular cancer, listeners also heard from his wife Hallie on the challenges of supporting her husband and trying to start a family during such uncertain times, as well as from Dr. Mark Litwin, chair of UCLA’s Urology Department who preached early detection. Listeners could find interviews with Adrian elsewhere, but My New Favorite Olympian was the only podcast that also had actionable advice on how to support a spouse during a battle with cancer as well as how to check yourself for testicular cancer. As Dr. Litwin said, “this episode will save men’s lives.”