After coming up short in the 1992 Olympic games, track star Michael Johnson was on a mission to leave the 1996 games a legend. And that he did, but not for the reasons you would think. Johnson came into the 200 m and 400 m dash events that year as a favorite to win gold, something he would go on to accomplish in world record fashion. But it’s the gold he wore on his feet that left the most lasting impression. It doesn’t matter what generation you’re from, if you are remotely interested in track and field, you know about Michael Johnson and his Olympic gold spikes.
In what might be my favorite example of an athlete crashing a party, Johnson nailed every element of the formula. As an influencer, Johnson chose one of the most important moments in track and field to make a statement. Party crashing starts with scale and ends with the story, and there is no bigger stage than the Olympics, no bolder statement than wearing gold spikes during an event in which you are favored to win. Johnson wasn’t about to back down from the pressure that came with those expectations. Quite the contrary. By wearing gold spikes, Johnson let it be known that he fully expected to win the matching gold medals he trained so hard to earn. He called his shot. And with that bravado, he became a legend.
Had Johnson pulled this stunt off at the world indoors or the trials leading up to the games, no one would have known. No one would have cared. Right athlete. Right moment. Right story. Legend.
EVENT: 1996 Olympics
MOMENT: Michael Johnson Calls His Shot, Wears Gold Spikes
INFLUENCER: Michael Johnson