Luger Changes Name for Underwear Sponsor

Tonga’s first Winter Olympian

Bruno Banani is no stranger to bold marketing moves (Digital Vision./Thinkstock)

Several years ago, the Polynesian island of Tonga held a tryout in hopes of finding the country’s first-ever Winter Olympian. They found Fuahea Semi, turned him into a luger, and changed his name to Bruno Banani—the same name as the provocative German underwear company that would sponsor his journey to the Olympic Games.

“We thought it was really cool and a little bit fun,” explained Mathias Ihle, who works for Bruno Banani’s advertising agency, Makai. 

“We have heard from other people who have names Bruno Banani. But this was a different kind of story, a great story. We watched him in a luge race in Germany, and we saw that he was coming down and doing a good job and he was finishing. So we said, ‘Let’s go for it.’”

Banani, who feels fortunate to have such an opportunity, qualified for Sochi after barely missing the Vancouver Games four years ago. Trained by his German coach, Banani’s Olympics will be defined by this weekend’s luge events.

After the Games, Banani hopes to continue competing and maintain his sponorship. But if it doesn't work out, he plans to return to Tonga and find a job with computers, according to the New York Times.

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