February 13, 2014

Olympic media stardom opening lots of doors for McKinney’s Johnny Quinn

The bobsledder has had to break down a bathroom door and be rescued from an elevator.

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

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

While Johnny Quinn of McKinney 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,” Quinn, 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. (“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 is actor William Shatner. (He told Quinn 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 been a lot of fun.”

The bathroom door

Quinn just wanted to take a shower.

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

“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 would hear him and come 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 kept making the hole bigger until he could make his way through and finally escape.

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 with Quinn in the picture — went viral, being retweeted and shared on Facebook countless times. It became one of the most-shared Olympic photos 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?!?” Candice Mendoza tweeted.

“I need a kitchen ripped out if he’s coming back via UK!” posted @huskybill2611.

The elevator

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

Quinn said they could hear people outside the elevator, and “this time, I had a phone.”

With help on the way, Quinn took time to pose for pictures — and he tweeted those 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 if he was trying to open the elevator doors.

He didn’t have to break through this time.

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

That adventure sparked another round of attention in social media circles.

One person tweeted: “Bobsled guys always this much trouble? ‘Johnny Quinn gets trapped again, this time in elevator.’ ”

Coming up

As Quinn and the rest of the U.S. bobsled team wait to compete on Feb. 22-23, they have been training, working out and watching other events.

For Quinn, it is a dream come true.

The UNT alum turned professional at age 22. After stints with the Buffalo Bills and Green Bay Packers and a Canadian football team, he had blown his knee out by age 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’s finally time 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.

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