The athletes of the U.S. men’s bobsled program needed to quickly raise $70,000. They brainstormed ways to come up with that kind of cash. And one idea, something that had been considered a few times over the years, seemed to make the most sense.
The Washington Post told the story of the Bob-Spread, the almost-nude calendar featuring members of Team USA posing shirtless, and in many cases, with nothing more than a red, white and blue speedo or thigh-high boxer briefs.
Push athlete James Reed, who’s also a photographer, organized the shoot last summer.
“We’re a very close team,” he told WaPo. “Shooting the calendar was a fun experience. It wasn’t awkward; it wasn’t anything that was a burden. We just came up with the idea for the person who we wanted to shoot and then took a couple photos.”
The best part is, these are some hunky men. Charlie Volker is a former Princeton running back; Manteo Mitchell is a former Olympic sprinter; Hakeem Abdul-Saboor was a competitive bodybuilder.
Bobsledding at an Olympic level is expensive. An elite sled costs up to $250,000, so the team rents one from USA Bobsled and Skeleton for a few grand. The WaPo says it costs around $25,000 to ship a sled one-way to Beijing.
USABS usually covers the expenses for top two American teams competing in the World Cup, but in order to guarantee more bobsledders would make the Olympics, the team needed to self-finance a third sled in the North American Cup.
The price for the additional sled was $70,000. The Bob-Spread covered the cost, and then some.
Carlo Valdes, a hairy and mustachioed push athlete who mimicked Burt Reynolds’ iconic 1972 Cosmopolitan centerfield photo shoot, says the extra money is a godsend.
“For me, I know it’s gonna go toward some self-funding, because not everything is paid for even though we’re at the Olympics,” he said.
Two four-man bobsled teams are representing the U.S. in Beijing (the third one didn’t qualify). The four-man competition starts Friday.