It’s a fun time to be an Adam Rippon.
There is, of course, the Adam Rippon, 28, of Olympic glory: the bronze medalist, the trending Twitter topic, the sparkly occasional foil to Vice President Pence.
And then there is @TheAdamRippon, 37: a great Olympic fan, a video game programmer in San Francisco and a staunch supporter of the other Adam Rippon.
“I hope I get to meet him at some point,” said Rippon, the not-famous one. “I want to shake his hand.”
About a decade ago, there were four Adam Rippons on MySpace. They all connected and exchanged messages, according to the still-not-famous Rippon. It wasn’t anything too personal: what’s up, where ya from, oh, you figure skate?
It soon became clear the Adam Rippon did more than just figure skate. He was electric on the ice, an Olympic hopeful with a personality as shiny as his bedazzled on-ice costumes. The other Adam Rippon became a fan from afar, pulling for his counterpart to earn spots in the 2010, 2014 and now 2018 Olympic Games.
When he qualified for PyeongChang, Rippon became the first openly gay American athlete to qualify for the Winter Olympics.
And in the run-up to the Games, he told USA Today he would prefer not to meet with Pence, the ceremonial leader of the American delegation, while also calling out Pence’s policy positions on LGBT rights. Pence later tried to arrange a one-on-one meeting with Rippon, according to the skater’s agent, although the White House pushed back against that report. Rippon told USA Today he was still not ready to meet with Pence, and the incident created international headlines.
And that’s when things got nuts for the other Adam Rippon.
He started getting Facebook and Twitter messages commending him for “inspirational” action on behalf of the LGBT community, and others decrying his lack of support for the vice president.
He chose not to respond, because the other Adam Rippon would probably be too busy to respond, and because most people could probably figure out after a while that the creator of the “Dragon Fantasy” video game series is not an Olympian on the side.
“I think people can tell the difference between us,” he said.
And then the Adam Rippon laid down a stunning free skate during the team event in PyeongChang, helping the United States claim a bronze medal. Rippon’s star was born.
“Watching him the other day, I had chills. And I’d seen him skate before, but watching it live was unbelievable for me,” the other Rippon said. “And what he’s doing socially, he’s telling people that it’s okay to be themselves. It’s okay to be you, and everyone should hear that. I don’t want to take away from that. I’m not built to be a gay icon.”
The other Rippon doesn’t figure skate either. But he does roller blade. Maybe, he said, that could translate to the ice.
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