The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, had plenty of stunning victories and agonizing defeats. But as quickly as the medals were being won on the slopes and the rinks, memes were being born on social media.
1. Tonga doesn’t give a shirt
The first meme of the games ended up being the best meme of the games. Tongan athlete Pita Taufatofua competed in taekwondo in the 2016 Rio Olympics and came back to cross-country ski in Pyeongchang. He carried his country’s flag into the chilly arena for the opening ceremonies shirtless, oiled up, and in traditional dress, earning the loudest applause of any team or athlete.
To no one’s surprise, he didn’t earn a medal, but when the closing ceremonies came around, he was back. But wait! Was that Taufatoua entering the 31-degree F (-0.5 Celsius) stadium properly dressed, in a winter coat? Yeah, but naw. The coat quickly came off, and the treasure chest was back on display.
As for his ski race? He came in #114 out of #116 and waited with his other warm-weather ski friends at the finish line to celebrate with the last-place finisher, Mexico’s German Madrazo. According to Time magazine, Taufatofua said, “I’d rather be finishing towards the end of the pack with all my friends than in the middle by myself.” Shirt or no shirt, how do you not love a guy like that?
2. Its-a me, gold-medalist Mario
Curlers don’t look like your normal stud athletes. They look like, well, the rest of us, people who’ve enjoyed a beer or two in their time and are maybe carrying a few extra pounds. That’s part of why it was so easy to embrace the US men’s curling team, a bunch of dudes from Minnesota and Wisconsin whom you might’ve seen buying pulltabs and cursing over the Packers-Vikings game in any Upper Midwest tavern a couple months back.
And among them was Matt Hamilton, who just happens to resemble a certain video-game plumber named Mario.
It helped that Hamilton himself was a vocal fan of the comparison, and a witty Twitterer to boot.
So when the team ended up in the gold-medal game against Sweden, even Mr. T pitied da fool who wasn’t onboard for a Miracurl on Ice.
Thank you, Mario, but forget the princess in another castle — our gold medal is right here around your neck.
3. Beer me
In Pyeongchang, it was always beer-thirty. On Feb. 11, teenage Red Gerard won America’s first gold medal, claiming it in men’s snowboard slopestyle. Viewers soon heard that Gerard slept through his alarm the morning of his competition because he was up late watching “Brooklyn Nine-Nine” on Netflix. His roommate woke him up and let him borrow his own Team USA jacket when Gerard couldn’t find his own, and then it was off to Medaltown.
The teen’s own giant family entourage was even more relaxed. “They were shotgunning beers at, like, 8:30 in the morning,” Gerard explained.
Beer’s moment at the Games was just beginning. On Feb. 19, Canadian Rachel Homan competed in curling for the Great White North. But it was her husband. Shawn Germain, who drank his way into the spotlight, being caught on film double-fisting beers at 9 a.m. as he watched his wife compete.
Favourite Olympic moment so far: Canadian curler Rachel Homan’s husband double-fisting his third and fourth beers while watching his wife compete against Japan. It’s 9am in Korea. Not all heroes wear capes. #PyeongChang2018 pic.twitter.com/jzrVsu06Vi
— Ben Johnson (@Ben_T_Johnson) February 19, 2018