The Athletes in the Coca-Cola Commercial

February 19, 2014

Special Olympics athletes and Olympic gold medalists who support Special Olympics are in the new Coca-Cola commercial. Learn about them in the vignettes below.

A Special Olympics athlete raises her arms in triumph

Loretta Claiborne

Loretta Claiborne did not talk or walk until the age of 4. Despite doctors' advice, Loretta's mother refused to put her child, who is also partially blind, in an institution. When Loretta found Special Olympics, her energy and gifts found an outlet. She has earned dozens of Special Olympics medals in track, bowling and skating, and has Loretta also completed 26 marathons. She has become an advocate for people with intellectual disabilities, holds a black belt in karate, speaks five languages and is a recipient of the ESPY Arthur Ashe Courage Award. Her life and struggles are depicted in Disney's film "The Loretta Claiborne Story."

300 x 200 Ben

Ben Purcell

Ben Purcell started with Special Olympics gymnastics as a youngster, then went on to become a silver-medalist in basketball. He later took up skiing and made his World Games debut in the 2009 Special Olympics World Winter Games in Boise, Idaho. Ben says he loves everything about Special Olympics — and has also made many great friends through Special Olympics.

Closeup of Olympian Carl Lewis

Carl Lewis

One of the greatest track and field competitors ever, Carl Lewis has been a dedicated supporter of Special Olympics for decades. He's inspired our athletes all around the world, even running a  marathon with Special Olympics athletes near the pyramids of Egypt. He calls it a "genius idea" to use sport as a way to break down barriers for people with intellectual disabilities. Carl also speaks out against the use of harmful language, such as the R-word, and encourages everyone to do the same.

Coke has been a proud supporter of the Olympics since 1924, Special Olympics since 1968, and U.S. Paralympics since 1992. For more information about U.S. Paralympics and sport for people with physical disabilities, visit



Nadia Comaneci

Nadia Comaneci is one of the best-known gymnasts in the world. She has been a supporter of Special Olympics for many years and has seen how it works first-hand. "Sport is the best tool to connect people," she says. "It can give people opportunities, it can break barriers and change lives." This "Perfect 10" athlete is also a member of Special Olympics International Board of Directors.

300 x 200 Gabrielle

Gabrielle Theriault

Gabrielle, 18, has trained with Special Olympics for the last eight years. She excels at summer and winter sports: athletics, soccer, basketball and alpine skiing. In the Coke ad, she is shown at her first Special Olympics World Games – the 2013 Games in PyeongChang, Republic of Korea. Gabrielle competed in Intermediate Slalom – tying for second place – and Intermediate Super G -- where she came in fifth.

Skater Michelle Kwan leans forward to shake the hand of an official after receiving a gold medal

Michelle Kwan

Figure-skating champion Michelle Kwan says she grew up appreciating the skills of people with intellectual disabilities, especially after sharing a practice rink with Special Olympics athletes years ago. Today, Michelle is both a Global Ambassador and member of the International Board of Directors. She also takes part in Special Olympics Unified Sports and says it's "amazing" to see all that Special Olympics athletes can do.

A Special Olympics athlete raises his arms triumphantly

Paul Nimmich

Paul Nimmich got started with Special Olympics when he was about 10 years old -- and has worked toward success and impressive moments of triumph ever since. Paul's many medals in many sports -- golfing, swimming, bowling, playing tennis or bocce -- show he's all about finding new challenges and pushing limits. His enthusiasm and true Olympic spirit shine brightly, even in this brief commercial glimpse.

Coca-Cola PSA

The 2014 version features five Special Olympics athletes.
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