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The Greatness with Kareem Maddox

Entered in Podcast Mini Series

Objective

Kareem Maddox is a professional 3x3 basketball player and a lifelong fan of the Olympics, and he's spent the last year exploring one question: What does it mean to be an Olympian? THE GREATNESS WITH KAREEM MADDOX is the latest podcast from USG Audio and features athletes from different countries, different sports and different decades. They share their Olympic dreams, what happens off the field, and what the Olympics mean to all of us.

Strategy

The Olympic Games have always been about more than sports. They’re a rich site of human drama, from the geopolitical to the deeply personal. Every two years, the global attention turns to the next host city and millions around the world unite to celebrate their teams, to cheer on underdogs, and to marvel at athletes’ physical and mental excellence.  

The Greatness with Kareem Maddox celebrates this rich history by telling lesser-known stories about the Games, from the formation of the Olympic Refugee Team, to Billy Mills’ incredible journey from a reservation in South Dakota to the gold medal stage, to a controversial Olympic mascot and what it meant for the identity of a city. Each episode asks: what do the Olympics mean—for athletes, for nations, and for all of us? 

To tell these stories, we uncovered fascinating, surprising, and unknown stories from Olympic history, and conducted intimate interviews with the people at the center. We produced this podcast during a year of border restrictions and covid lockdowns, but we were still able to talk to Olympians from all over the world. We spoke with Billy Mills, the legendary long-distance runner, from his home in Sacramento. Anjelina Lohalith, a member of the first Olympic Refugee team, told us her story from a training camp in the mountains of Kenya. Sylvia Gerasch spoke to us in Germany about her story of resisting the East German government in the 1980s. Each of these people shared their stories with us in interviews that were vulnerable, surprising, and deeply moving.  

We then crafted these interviews into narrative audio documentaries, using a rich collage of archival footage from the history of the Games to bring each story to life. Kareem Maddox, the host of the series, narrates each episode. As an aspiring Olympic athlete himself, he uses his own experiences as an athlete to inform the show’s narrative approach. 

The Greatness with Kareem Maddox tells eight unique documentary stories from different moments in Olympic history, but a few guiding themes unite them all. One is a commitment to questioning the history and present of the Olympics as an institution, particularly as it relates to historically marginalized groups. Another thread throughout each episode is a belief that a great Olympics story can come from anyone, from the gold medal winner, to the last-place finisher, to the person performing inside the mascot costume. A third theme of the series is right in the title: what is “greatness”? Who defines it, what drives people toward achieving it, and what happens if they fail? Each of these stories, more than anything else, is about that pursuit, and what can be learned from it.  

Media

Entrant Company / Organization Name

USG Audio, a division of Universal Studio Group

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Entry Credits