Skip To Content
  • Go for Gold badge
  • Tokyo Olympics badge

I Once Participated In The Best Sport At The Olympics, But It Won't Be Happening This Year Because There Are No Spectators And That's Sad

RIP PIN TRADING.

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to go to the Winter Olympics in South Korea. Some nights I literally lied in bed scrolling through my pictures from when I was there because it was the best month of my life. I have problems, but whatever.

Me

There were soOoOoo many amazing things to experience at the Olympics. Like, I became the #1 fan of the South Korean women's curling team, so much so that I got a tattoo literally in honor of them.

Me

But there was one thing that was better than all other activities at the Olympics. And that was the sport of trading pins. Literally, it is thee spectator sport of the games. The only "sport" that the attendees can participate in.

Me

But, because of COVID, there will be no spectators at the games this year, which means the greatest sport at the Olympics won't exist. And that's sad! Let me explain.

Basically, everywhere you turn in Olympic Park (the main area of the Olympics), there are people trading pins. Like, the things that you put on backpacks and jackets and stuff. People come from ALL over the world with pins they have collected over years and years of attending Olympics in tons of cities.

Me

I loved this guy and his pin vest. 

Basically, the point is to trade and collect as many pins as your heart desires — which for me, was AS MANY AS POSSIBLE.

Me

My friend Matt (who works at BuzzFeed too) and I got really competitive with each other and basically made pin collecting/trading our entire lives while we were there. We'd display our pins on our lanyards with our media badges.

When I say pin trading is intense, I'm not kidding. Picture dozens and dozens of boards of pins laid out all over the place, like this:

Me

Day or night, trading would be happening.

Me

There were also official pin trading locations.

Me

These were inside locations that were ~sponsored~.

Me

Everyone who came with their huge collections of pins had amassed their inventory by attending Olympics of the past.

Me

Also, there are different types of pins. There are brand pins, media pins, country pins, team pins — the list goes on and on. For example, media pins were pins created by different media outlets (like, NBC had their own pins, and so did all the news outlets from other countries). Even BuzzFeed came prepared with a few different pins. One was a corgi in a bobsled, and one was a viral badge.

Me

This was a media pin from TV3, a Malaysan TV channel, from the Rio 2016 Olympics. Random and cute and available for trading.

Me

Truly, the pin options were endless.

Me

There is no right or wrong way to trade. It's all about your personal preference.

Me

Luckily BuzzFeed pins were a hot ticket item, so it gave us a leg up in trading. One of my major trades was when I offered up 12 pins...

Me

...for this man's hat. He had come from Wisconsin along with a shit ton of pins, and instead of trading my pins for other pins, I decided to go for the hat.

Me

IT WORKED, and it was my biggest trade of the season. I was very happy. I was now the owner of one of the berets from the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City. It was part of Team USA's outfit in the opening ceremony!

Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images

And one of Matt's huge trades was literally a 1:1 pin trade where he got this closing ceremony pin from 2002 featuring Marie and Donny Osmond. Rare and great.

Me

Depending on who you asked, certain pins were "better" than others. Or just cooler or cuter.

Me

Like, here are a bunch of tae kwon do pins. Obviously I worked hard to make a trade to get one of those for no reason other than I liked them.

Me

There was also this "no doping" one with the Olympics mascot. I snagged that one. It was a favorite of mine.

Me

Sometimes while trading, you really had to strategize. Perhaps in certain scenarios, it was worth it to trade multiple pins for one pin or get a pin that you didn't really want — to then flip it and use it to barter for something else. THIS WAS A SPORT FOR THE BRAIN!!!

Me

There was a BuzzFeed pin already on this trader's board! I had to entice this person with several pins to get what I wanted.

By the end of our trip, our necks were weighed down by pins.

Me

I know I said we got competitive, but I truly don't remember who won the pin trading competition. Matt will probably say he did, but don't forget that I got a cool hat. :)

Me

Clearly you can tell that I was obsessed with pin trading, and it truly sucks that it won't be happening at this year's Olympics. But I've saved all my pins for the next games that I go to, and I know I'll be participating in the sport again, whenever I am able. By the way, all my pins are in a jar, but Matt put all of his on a board, which is beautiful, and I've been meaning to copy him for three years.

Matt Stopera

In conclusion: RIP 2020 (2021) OLYMPIC PIN TRADING. I CAN'T WAIT TO PLAY AGAIN.

BuzzFeed Daily

Keep up with the latest daily buzz with the BuzzFeed Daily newsletter!

Newsletter signup form