The Olympic Spirit

It was the summer of 1984. The Olympics were in town. Everywhere you looked there were advertisements for the games plastered on bus benches, newspaper boxes and billboards. Almost all the commercials on TV had something to do with the games. By the time the torch bearer lit the flame at the Coliseum, the city was rabid with Olympic fever. My brothers and I were just as excited as anybody else. But we didn’t care about the sporting events. We were psyched about the McDonald’s promotional game called, “If The US Wins, You Win.”

The concept was simple. The cashiers handed out game cards, no purchase necessary. All you had to do was ask. On the front of the cards was a round foil medal that you scratched off to reveal an Olympic event. If the US team won the gold medal in that event, you got a Big Mac. For the silver medal, you got fries. Bronze, a Coke.

Of course, we didn’t know shit about politics at the time, but the Soviet bloc had boycotted the games that year. So the US team, with very little competition, was kicking some serious ass. This meant lots of free McDonald’s food for us.

We ate at McDonald’s two or three times a day. Each morning we walked the five and a half blocks to the McDonald’s on Garvey to redeem our winning game cards and get new ones. In the lobby, they’d set up a board with the results of all the events. If we were lucky we got a card for an event that had already been played. Otherwise, we’d add the game card to our collection and wait.

It was the greatest summer of our young lives.

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