’The big chicken:’ To the Olympic world, Kentucky mostly means KFC

Published 4:07 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2016


In America, you can assume most people would know at least one fact, if not more, about the state of Kentucky. However, this is not the case in Brazil, where I had the opportunity to report in Rio at the Olympics with a team of journalism students from Asbury University.
We were mainly working for LEX18 and would send them Kentucky related stories and news packages. One day, four of us went to the Olympic Park and asked several people what they knew about Kentucky.
At first, you just laugh and think that there is no way people in Brazil are going to know anything about Kentucky. This was the case for some of the people we talked to, but others would know at least one thing about the Bluegrass State.
The most popular response we heard was “Kentucky Fried Chicken” — and yes, they do have them in Brazil. I believe there was even someone who said Kentucky has “the big chicken.”
Even though we heard numerous people say the only thing they knew about Kentucky was KFC, we had a couple of other great responses.
We interviewed one man from Spain, who instead of believing Kentucky has horse racing, he thought it was “horse fighting.” I can only imagine what horse fighting would look like in Kentucky.
Surprisingly, not very many people knew anything about Kentucky basketball. We did find one boy who was a Washington Wizards fan and made the connection with John Wall, who played for the University of Kentucky.
When we had our camera set up, we had to stop people and ask them if they spoke English and if they wanted to interviewed. However, this wasn’t the case for two people who were actually working in Olympic Park.
Two guys came up to us and watched us interview someone else, and once they left, one of them came up to me and asked if I could take a picture of him being interviewed. It was funny that we didn’t have to stop him or even ask him. He was so willing to stand in front of a camera. After I took the photos, he asked me if I could take a Snapchat video, which was even better.
After he had his 30 seconds of fame, his friend came up and asked me to take photos of him being interviewed, as well. You could tell they were loving it, even though they probably had no idea what we were doing. There are some people who will do anything to be on camera, no matter what it’s for.
The horse-fighting guy from Spain was this way — he decided he was going to flip the script and interview one of our team members. After his interview, he grabbed the mic and said, “OK, my turn,” and started interviewing the girl who interviewed him. I’m pretty sure he thought we were broadcasting live — which was not the case — but he definitely had fun.
Even though it was hard trying to find people who spoke English well enough to interview them, and then to find people who knew something about Kentucky, it was my favorite story I worked on.
It was a wonderful experience talking to several people from other countries and letting them have their moment in front of the camera. I hope we were able to leave a little bit of the Bluegrass in Rio.

Kerry Steinhofer is a new staff writer for The Advocate-Messenger, covering Danville and Boyle County. The video her team produced on Kentucky knowledge at the Olympics can be viewed atbit.ly/horsefighting.

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