The lead up to the Olympics was clouded by fears of the zika virus, concerns about the safety of the water for some sports, and issues with facilities. The large number of empty seats was surprising at some of the early events. As the athletic competitions began, the spotlight swiftly shifted to the brilliance of the fierce competitors. And, Leslie Jones was tweeting along with her own gold medal style. Her thunderous enthusiasm, hilarious videos, and awesome patriotic spirit quickly exploded on social media. Thankfully, Mike Shoemaker, @shoemakermike from Late Night with Seth Meyers noticed and tweeted to Jim Bill, the NBC Olympics executive producer, @jfb that he should get Leslie Jones to Rio. Fortunately, Jim agreed and Leslie sprinted to Rio.
Leslie’s onsite live tweeting is epic. There is no celebrity holdback, she is all in. Her rapid fire coverage is dazzlingly patriotic, funny, and so close to the action. The USA swimmers invited Leslie to sit with them last night!
I’m sure NBC has been meticulously planning every element of coverage for the Olympics for a very long time and from my perspective they have been doing an awesome job. I love the Today show team and Ryan Seacrest as well as the other Olympic correspondents! I’m sure it was not in NBC’s plans though to bring down an SNL correspondent. Luckily for us, Jim recognized this unique opportunity and invited Leslie via Twitter.
Beyond Leslie being hilarious, NBC won gold in my book for recognizing that Leslie shares the values and character of many Olympians. Now, if you’ve read some of her tweets you may be thinking that I didn’t notice the profanity and some of the crazy comments. I did. More importantly, I’m sure the lawyers at NBC did too but Jim still invited Leslie along. And, this is truly amazing in corporate America, Leslie has not dialed back her language or comments since arriving in Rio. The lawyers must still be freaking out. Her love of America and our athletes seems to have trumped any concerns.
A short time ago, when Ghostbusters was coming out, Leslie was the victim of cyber bullying on Twitter. I’m not talking just a few mean tweets. I’m talking intentional, hateful attacks on Leslie. She could have been beaten down by the meanness of people who did not even know her. Instead, she ignored her haters and dove full force into covering the Olympics from her home. She chose to spread patriotism, laughter, and hope in a time when our country has had way to much anger and pessimism.
While we are only a week into the Olympics, not only have the Olympic athletes captured our hearts so have super fans like Aly Raisman’s animated parents, Michael Phelps baby, Boomer, and Simone Biles’ kissing mom and dad. As a super fan, Leslie has become an awesome addition to the 2016 Olympic storyline. Leslie also represents the Olympic creed: “The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win but to take park, just as the most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”
Jim, and the NBC team, thanks for making this happen. With Leslie, you all have won gold!