Stardom in the NFL may have eluded him, but Johnny Quinn, now a member of the U.S. bobsled team, found it Saturday when he became the first social media darling of the Sochi Games.
Quinn attained his lofty status with a simple tweet of his accidental misadventure in an Olympic Village bathroom — #Sochijailbreak. The tweet, a photo of a bathroom door he’d burst through, went viral. It was retweeted over 25,000 times and favorited over 13,000 times and, suddenly, Johnny Quinn was a household name. Quinn, a former practice squad player for the Green Bay Packers and Buffalo Bills and Saskatchewan of the CFL, jumped into the shower — and, when he couldn’t get out of the bathroom, he tried to rouse his teammates.
“My neighbors are my two other teammates on the bobsled, so I was banging on the wall, trying to get their attention and — nothing, nothing,” he told CNN’s Rachel Nichols. “Not so much panic because I had running water, but I was sitting there banging on random parts of the wall to see if I could, you know, catch somebody’s attention and, as I’m banging on random parts going around the bathroom, I kind of hit the door and it cracks.
“So I go a little bit harder and my fist goes through the door. So I see light and I’m like, ‘Okay, time to get out of here now.’”
His teammate, Dallas Robinson, told NBC’s “Today” show that “we were next door and we could hear some pounding and muffled noises, but we thought it was construction.”
Nick Cunningham went looking for Quinn when he realized that a quick shower hadn’t ended after an hour.
“[Johnny] was literally in his towel and he had this stunned look on his face,” Cunningham told Lester Holt. “I saw the door and it was like, really in the shape of a person who just ran through the door.”
It may have looked like the destruction of some sort of bad boy bobsledder, but Quinn, a 30-year-old from McKinney, Texas, seems amiable and reasonable, more like Clark Kent than Superman.
“At that time I was so mad and frustrated I didn’t even have a towel in there,” Quinn said on ABC’s “Good Morning America.” “I was just excited to finally get out of there. Once I got out of there and put a towel on, I looked back at the door and said ‘Oh man there’s a giant hole in there. I might get in trouble for this.’”
Quinn, an unlikely Olympian who took up bobsledding in 2010 when his football career ended because of a knee injury, did what any responsible person would do: he ‘fessed up to the front desk. The door, with a core more cardboard than plywood, was replaced and Quinn, freshly scrubbed, went off to a whirl of interviews that, in a measure of just how big a deal he had become, included “Access Hollywood.”
“There are a lot of creative people out there putting a really funny spin on what happened,” Quinn said. “My teammates and I are having a really good time laughing at the comments now that everybody’s safe and the door situation is squared away.”
Those media moments behind him, he’ll turn his attention to bobsledding. Soon, Quinn and his teammates will vacate the Village, according to CNN, and will move up the slopes to new housing as competition begins. Another group — the U.S. men’s hockey team — will move into their quarters.