The Olympics are all about amateur competition and the thrill of cheering on your own country and this crap:
It's a safe bet that few Americans headed north for the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics have ever heard of a secretive New Jersey multimillionaire named Sead Dizdarevic.
But he's very well-acquainted with their money.
You can't buy an official ticket to the Games without ringing the cash register for Dizdarevic, a longtime Olympic insider who has spent tens of millions of dollars to become the official "hospitality provider" for February's Games. His exclusive contracts give him a monopoly to sell tickets and hotel packages at steep markups in the United States.
In effect, Dizdarevic is the official ticket scalper for the 2010 Winter Olympics.
Dizdarevic's companies handle all the official sales of tickets and travel packages to the U.S. public, and all the package services in Canada.
A decade ago, he was a key figure in the Salt Lake Olympic bid scandal, which jolted the international Olympic movement to its core. He admitted to doling out bundles of cash to curry favor with potential power brokers, Salt Lake officials seeking an Olympics for Utah.
He not only survived that brush with the law, but he emerged as an above-board, official Games sponsor — a role he has only cemented in the years since.
Dizdarevic was forced into the spotlight during the largest scandal in modern Olympic history: accusations that officials in Salt Lake City used $1 million in cash and favors to sway the votes of IOC members, who selected the city for the 2002 Winter Games.
In 1994, the year before Salt Lake City won the Games, two top officials of the local bid committee, David Johnson and Thomas Welch, asked Dizdarevic for contributions, court records show. Soon, Dizdarevic began a series of cash withdrawals from his bank accounts, always in amounts less than $10,000, which wouldn't trigger disclosure to the Internal Revenue Service. He stacked the cash in his safe until time came to deliver it.
There was no small talk when Dizdarevic handed Johnson $17,000 in cash at a Nashville, Tenn., hotel later that year.
"I had my briefcase and my coat," Dizdarevic would testify later. "I gave him the envelope. He thanked me. Goodbye."
The transaction was just as quick when he gave Welch $35,000 cash in an Atlanta hotel."