Olympics / Sports

Break-out bobsledder Quinn has exit strategy for competition days

He's been a media breakout star of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

And that's before he ever gets to go for the gold.

While Johnny Quinn of McKinney, Texas, has waited for his chance to compete in the four-man bobsled competition next week, the 30-year-old has gained national and international attention, becoming a bona fide social media star.

For breaking out of a bathroom.

And getting stuck in an elevator.

"These winter games have been very interesting," the man who has been dubbed "hulk" said with a chuckle. "It has been crazy."

The story of Quinn's adventures has been told worldwide -- on ABC, NBC, CNN, even on television in Tokyo and New Zealand. And some of the coverage actually focuses on his athletic potential, as USA Today noted in a headline: "There's more to Johnny Quinn than broken bathroom doors."

As the former track and football star from the University of North Texas in Denton has told his story, his number of Twitter followers has skyrocketed to more than 25,000 and more than 2,500 people are following him on Facebook.

Some new developments:

--He has been invited to SWAT team training with the Denton Police Department after he comes home from the Olympics. ("We are happy to announce that @JohnnyQuinnUSA has accepted our invite 2 come 2 one of our SWAT team training dates after the Olympics," @DENTONPD tweeted.)

--One of his newest fans includes actor William Shatner. (He told him to take part of the broken door as a souvenir.)

--His name is being used as a verb. ("Every time I've walked into a room today, I've thought, 'I'd love to Johnny Quinn that door,'" Jim Licko tweeted.)

"Now that the door has been fixed, my teammates are razzing me good," Quinn said. "It has a lot of fun."


Quinn just wanted a shower.

So he went into his hotel bathroom and everything was fine -- until he tried to leave the bathroom.

"The door wouldn't open," he said. "I checked to make sure it was unlocked. It was and I was messing with it, checking everything, trying to loosen it to get out."

He didn't have his phone, so he sat there for a while, hoping his roommate would return from the weight room.

Then Quinn, clad only in a towel, started hitting the wall and doing everything he could to draw attention, hoping someone nearby would hear him, come in and let him out.

"I started banging on random things trying to make some noise," he said. "I got to the door and hit it pretty good and it cracked. I hit it again and my fist went through the door. I could see daylight in the other room. At that point, I knew it was time to get out of there."

So he made the hole bigger, big enough to make his way through and finally escape the bathroom.

Once he got dressed, he told his story to fellow Olympians and took a picture to post online.

"I thought I'd get a couple of retweets, some comments online," he said. "It kind of exploded."

The photo featuring the broken door -- and other versions that include Quinn in the picture -- went viral, being retweeted and shared on Facebook countless times. It became one of the most shared Olympics photo on Twitter that day.

Some people began saying that Quinn was the "hulk" of the Olympics, prompting even more social media discussion.

"My can opener just broke. So naturally, my first thought was what would @JohnnyQuinnUSA do?!?" tweeted Candice Mendoza.

"I need a kitchen ripped out if he's coming back via UK!" posted @huskybill2611.


Not long after the bathroom incident, Quinn and two fellow USA Olympians, Nick Cunningham and David Cripps, found themselves stuck in an elevator.

He said they could hear people outside the elevator and "this time, I had a phone."

Because they knew help was on the way, Quinn took time to pose for some pictures while they were stuck in the elevator -- and he tweeted those out as well.

"No one is going to believe this but we just got stuck in an elevator," he wrote on one picture, where he acted as though he was trying to open the elevator doors.

Btu he didn't have to break through these doors.

"Somebody on the outside was able to get us out," he said.

But that adventure sparked another round of attention through social media circles.

One person tweeted: "Bobsled guys always this much trouble? 'Johnny Quinn gets trapped again, this time in elevator.'"


As Quinn and the rest of the USA bobsled team wait for their chance to compete on Feb. 22-23, they have been training, working out and watching other Olympic events.

For Quinn, it is a dream come true.

The UNT alum turned professional at the age of 22. After stints with the Buffalo Bills, Green Bay Packers and a Canadian football team, his knee blew out by the time he was 26.

"At the age of 30 to be an Olympian for the USA, it fires me up," he said. "Our goal is to be on that podium with medals around our necks listening to our national anthem."

When it finally is time for him to compete, Quinn said he's not taking any chances.

"On competition day, I'll probably shower with the door open and maybe take the stairs," he said.

(c)2014 Fort Worth Star-Telegram

Visit the Fort Worth Star-Telegram at www.star-telegram.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services


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