“Da Bull” was going to compete in the Olympia 212 Showdown in Orlando.Read article
Madison Square Garden: October 10, 1998. It was an experience that would alter the course of my life. Only a few years out of college, I managed to scrape together enough to cover the cost of the ticket, but it may have been the best investment I’ve ever made. It was the first time I would attend a major bodybuilding event, and I’ll never forget it. The sights and sounds around the venue were as galvanizing as the chiseled physiques competing that night for bodybuilding’s most prestigious title: Mr. Olympia.
It was electric. I was so inspired by the experience that I turned it into a career, merging a love of fitness, media, and business into a professional journey that now spans 20 years—editor, publisher, host, writer, producer…you name it. But nothing could have prepared me for the phone call I received last month.
The voice on the other end of the phone belonged to Chris Scardino, Executive Vice President at American Media, Inc. (AMI), the same company that publishes this magazine along with two dozen or so of the world’s most popular celebrity and active lifestyle-themed publications, both print and digital. Chris was calling to discuss the recently held Olympia Weekend, a valuable property that AMI recently gained 100% ownership in. We discussed the numerous layers of the event, with the singular focus on creating a fan experience unlike any other. I’m always glad to offer up my two cents on any number of topics, but the chance to discuss the Olympia was especially gratifying given my personal connection with the event dating back to that night in 1998.
A few days later, Chris reached out again. This time he was calling to invite me to New York to meet with AMI Chairman David Pecker, regarded in media circles as one of its most influential figures. I had met David on a few occasions over the years, but this would be my first chance to experience, first hand, the unabashed passion of the man who built a media empire that reaches roughly 130 million consumers each month. It only took a few minutes before we both realized that we share a sincere desire to take the Olympia to unchartered territory. While the event has long been considered the crown jewel of the fitness industry, David made it crystal clear that there’s still work to be done. By the time our meeting had ended, David offered me a job—Chief Olympia Officer.
The opportunity of a lifetime, the chance to oversee one of the fitness industry’s most celebrated brands, roughly the equivalent of being called upon to run the baseball team I grew up cheering for. Twenty years after that unforgettable night in the fall of ‘98, I humbly accepted David’s offer. If you’ve never experienced Olympia Weekend, mark your calendars for Vegas the weekend of September 13, 2019. Who knows, in 20 years, YOU might be running the show.