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Historic Pay Parity for Special Olympics Athlete-Reporters at Super Bowl

Holmes and Harris-Gowdie hold microphones at a table with FanSided and Special Olympics banners behind them.
FanSided’s Sterling Holmes (L) and Special Olympics Florida athlete Malcom Harris-Gowdie (R) during live, streaming coverage of Super Bowl week.

Two history-making athletes joined other Special Olympics athletes and celebrity supporters at Super Bowl LVIII in Nevada.

Special Olympics Florida Athlete and Sportscaster, Malcom Harris-Gowdie was back as a second-time Unified reporter along with FanSided’s Sterling Holmes to cover the Big Game—this time as a paid sports analyst. As part of FanSided’s unified reporting team, Harris-Gowdie became the first Special Olympics athlete to serve as a fully paid and credentialed correspondent at the Super Bowl.

Brandon stands on a platform high above the empty stadium.
Brandon Torquato during a week of celebrations for Super Bowl LVIII.

Brandon Torquato, from Special Olympics Nevada, landed a gig for the week as ABC’s Good Morning America’s Kid Correspondent. The position came along with the honor of being named this year’s NFL PLAY 60 Super Kid. His duties included attending Super Bowl events and behind-the-scenes activations including bringing the ball on field to the players at the start of the third quarter.

 Harris-Gowdie’s assignments ranged from pre- and post-game Q&A at Super Bowl’s Opening Night and attending the NFL Honor’s red carpet and teaming up with Holmes for daily live-streams that lasted up to three or more hours a day for Stacking the Box. He interviewed the biggest names in sports and entertainment including Super Bowl winning coach Andy Reid of the Kansas City Chiefs and champion Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes. Harris-Gowdie’s conversations ranged from father-son Super Bowl legacies with San Francisco 49s running back Christian McCaffrey to finding out how Victor Cruz came up with his signature touchdown salsa dance.

Harris-Gowdie is hoping his work will inspire others. He told CBS 12 News in West Palm Beach, Fl, "Others will be like, o.k., if Malcom is doing this so exceptionally well, and is able to intellectually have all the facts and stats and everything, then (they know) they can do it themselves too."

While covering the action leading up to the Big Game, Harris-Gowdie spoke with Special Olympics Colorado athlete Vince Egan and NFL player and Special Olympics supporter Alex Singleton about the newly launched School of Strength: Snack Zone nutrition campaign that they both co-starred in. The campaign is the first-ever nutrition campaign created for Special Olympics athletes, targeting athletes in their late teens and twenties to learn about the nutritional benefits of choosing healthier snacks and how healthy snacks can help them feel stronger on the playing field.

In addition to opportunities for Special Olympics athletes serving in reporting roles for the Big Game, Special Olympics Chief Health Officer Dr. Dimitri Christakis was invited to be a panelist at the Brain Health Summit, part of Leigh Steinberg’s 37th annual Super Bowl Party. He discussed Special Olympics’ programming around our Strong Minds work and talked about the ‘whole athlete’—both the physical attributes and importance of establishing strong emotional well-being.

Not only did Special Olympics athletes, staff and supporters make a big appearance on the ground during the weeklong festivities, they were covered by the international press for their historic participation and groundbreaking thought leadership.

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