Adam Rippon Changes Mind on NBC Gig; Will Remain an Olympian

"If I took this opportunity, I would have to leave the Olympic team, I’d have to leave the village," Rippon said

After reportedly agreeing to be an NBC correspondent for the remainder of the Winter Games in Pyeongchang, Adam Rippon has decided he will not join the network as a sports analyst.

"I’m so flattered that NBC wanted me to work as a correspondent, but if I took this opportunity, I would have to leave the Olympic team, I’d have to leave the village," the figure skater told NBCSN in an interview Monday (Sunday night in the U.S.) "It’s so important to me, you know, I worked so hard to be on this Olympic team, and my teammates and my friends were there for me during my events, and that means so much to me, that I really feel like I need to be there for them during their events."

Earlier in the day, NBC spokesman Greg Hughes confirmed that Rippon accepted an offer to contribute to NBC's Olympic coverage across multiple platforms, including television and social media.

But according to USA Today’s Christine Brennan, Rippon changed his mind after learning he would have to relinquish his official status as an Olympic athlete, rescind his Olympic credential and move out of the Team USA facilities if he took the gig with NBC. He also would not have been able to march in the closing ceremony.

The 28-year-old, who was never expected to medal against a field populated by younger, higher-flying competition, has been a hit on television — perhaps following in the footsteps of fellow American skating star Johnny Weir, now a personality on NBC who helps host figure skating and Kentucky Derby coverage. 

"I think I've shown the world that I'm a fierce competitor," he said. "But I think I've shown them that I'm also a fierce human being."

A taste of Rippon's best work just from Saturday:

—On his plans for the rest of the Olympics: "I'm probably going to have like a stiff drink later."

—On the Olympic spotlight: "Sometimes I just get attention, and I really don't know how it happens."

—On his legacy: "You know, I'm not like a gay icon, or America's gay sweetheart. I'm just America's sweetheart and I'm just an icon."

Rippon's near-flawless skating and his efforts off the ice turned him into a headline-grabbing darling of the Pyeongchang Games. 

He and skier Gus Kenworthy are America's only two openly gay male athletes, and they've flaunted their LGBT pride on social media throughout the Olympics. 

Rippon's path to Pyeongchang included a public spat with Vice President Mike Pence over LGBT rights. Rippon criticized the White House in January for choosing Pence to lead its official delegation for the opening ceremony. When a USA Today report said Pence was hoping to sit down with Rippon, the figure skater said he had no interest in meeting with Pence until at least after the games.

The "brouhaha" — Rippon's word — mostly dissipated as he made his Olympic debut. He helped the Americans win a bronze medal in the team event, then put on a pair of clean skates in the individual competition.

All the while, he charmed away during interviews with his striking ease and wit. His personality — he proudly told The Associated Press in November he's "a little trashy, but really fun" — cemented his Olympic stardom, catching attention from stars including Reese Witherspoon and Elmo.

How does he feel about that?

"Well, you know, on the spectrum from Reese Witherspoon to Elmo, I'm like excited at about, like, a Meryl Streep," he told NBC this week. "Does that make sense?"

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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